--An uneasy cease-fire settled over this African township today after a day of factional violence that dealt a serious setback to hopes for stability in this war-ravaged southern African nation.

Hostilities between former military factions loyal to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe and Home Affairs Minister Joshua Nkomo ended last night after Zimbabwean Air Force jet fighters circled over the battle area and elements of the new integrated national Army moved in temporarily to separate the combatants.

The death toll, however, continued to mount today with police saying at least 43 persons had been killed and about 300 injured.

Only six of those killed were former guerrillas now living in this township just five miles outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. The other 37 were civilians, mainly living in Entumbane and surrounding African townships that ring the city 250 miles southwest of Salisbury.

It was expected that the count would rise further as police said they are still finding bodies.

The violent outburst following a weekend of volatile political rallies in Bulawayo was by far the worst since Zimbabwe achieved its independence seven months ago after a seven-year war against white rule. The rival guerrilla groups of about 1,500 members each used mortars, machine guns, automatic weapons and grenades against each other.

Stores reopened today and transportation was restored as the city struggled back to normal. But a dusk-to-dawn curfew remained in force in the African townships.

Troops from the former guerrilla armies loyal to Mugabe and Nkomo are dug in around their respective housing areas only about half a mile apart, illustrating just how tenuous the cease-fire is. National Army troops are patrolling the perimeter.

Even if the truce holds, the tribal nature of the violence is bound to have repercussions elsewhere in the country where the majority Shonas outnumber Nkomo's Ndebele supporters by about four to one.

Many civilians were rousted out of their homes, threatened and in some cases killed by Nkomo's forces for supporting Mugabe's Shona-based party, according to area residents.

In Luveve, more than three miles away from the guerrilla clash in Entumbane, four persons were shot dead under a eucalyptus tree in full sight of residents.

A man, who declined to be named, told reporters that his family cowered in their house only 50 feet away and watched the shootings. The bodies remained under the tree for several hours until taken away by the police after the cease-fire, he said.

Other residents said young supporters of Nkomo's party went from house to house, beating residents who did not share their political opinions.

Their violent outburst was in response to a virtual call to war against the Nkomo forces Sunday in Bulawayo by Mugabe's outspoken finance minister, Enos Nkala.

So delicate was the situation that Nkomo scheduled and then canceled "for security reasons" a press conference in which he presumably would have criticized Nkala. Vote Moyo, an Nkomo aide, said "the whole trouble started when Nkala asked his party members to take action" against the minority coalition partner.

Such words are particularly inflammatory in Entumbane where 3,000 former guerrillas, equally divided between the two forces, are housed in separate tracts within easy mortar range.

Mugabe's forces, however, blamed Nkomo's followers for the violence.

Nkomo's forces apparently decided to strike first in this Ndebele stronghold. They reportedly launched a two-pronged attack on Mugabe's encampment using mortars, machine guns, rockets and small-arms fire Sunday night and Monday.

Countless concrete-block houses in the area of the camp for Mugabe supporters were pockmarked with bullets. One had a caved-in roof as a result of a mortar round. For blocks on end houses had broken windows.

There was no sign of damage around the rival camp, where armed troops sat in front of their houses. In many areas the six-foot-high Cyclone fencing topped by barbed wire had been torn up or cut away to allow the guerrillas out of the camp.

The fencing is all that separates the civilian areas from the troops, who were recently brought into urban areas and given housing originally intended for squatters.

The main victims appear to have been civilians caught in the cross fire.

Esther Ndlovu, an Nkomo supporter living close to the Mugabe troops, pointed to a crumpled bicycle in a ditch. She said a man had been riding it to go to work in Bulawayo when he was shot down and killed by Mugabe supporters.

Ndlovu, 22, her husband and their three children under four, are part of an extended family of 13 living in a four-room house. Her husband went to Bulawayo Sunday and she said she had not seen him since them.

The others spend Sunday night huddled under their beds as bullets whizzed in all directions. On Monday morning they fled to another township, slept in the open and only returned today, Ndlovu said.

Now the shelling has cut off the power to their $53-a-month house, they have no food and they are afraid to go out and buy provisions because everywhere armed troops are roaming the streets.

Three times in a five-minute conversation, Ndlovu repeated, "We don't want to live here any more." The last time she added, "We don't know where we're going -- we're just going."

A man who watched as four persons were killed virtually in his front yard was more philosophical.

Yes, he was frightened. No, he was not moving.

"If I moved to Essexvale [another township] the same thing could happen," he said.