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Gunbattle erupts after Buthelezi rally

TAYLOR'S HALT, Natal - One man was killed and another seriously wounded in a gunbattle that erupted as supporters of the Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi streamed home from a South African political rally yesterday.

The clash was one of several linked to the run-up to the country's first all-race elections due to be held in April and being boycotted by Chief Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party. A total of four people were killed and four adults and two children were wounded in the clashes.

Scores of houses were also burning late yesterday in Bekkersdal, a black township near Johannesburg, after fighting between Buthelezi backers and supporters of the African National Congress (ANC), police said.

Buses taking Inkatha supporters home from the rally in Taylor's Halt, attended by 20,000 people, had stopped on a dirt road near a cluster of grass-roofed huts in Edendale township. The Inkatha people are reported to have started shooting, and local residents returned fire.

The clash took place one day after four gunmen killed 15 ANC supporters, including two 12-year-olds and 10 teenagers, who were preparing to run a voter-education workshop at Creighton in Natal province. A local ANC official blamed Inkatha for the killings, the worst this year and the first directly to target election workers. Chief Buthelezi condemned the massacre in a statement yesterday.

A police spokesman, Deon Peens, said three black men were killed when police came under fire after stopping a stolen truck taking ANC supporters from a self-defence training session at Tembisa.