Elders from the region said the clashes took place on Monday and Tuesday in the central Somali town of Herale.

"The fighting erupted on Monday afternoon and continued until Tuesday between Dir and Marehan clans," said one elder, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

The violence had died down by noon on Tuesday, even though no official ceasefire had been agreed, the elder added.

Feud

The clashes were the latest in a series of tit-for-tat confrontations rooted in the April murder of a Marehan elder, allegedly by Dir clansmen.

In November, at least 12 people were killed when the same clans clashed.

Somalia has been without a nationally recognised government and torn apart by factional warfare since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barri's regime in 1991. The northern, formerly British-ruled part of the country broke away as Somaliland soon afterwards.

A reconciliation conference aimed at restoring a national administration in the country has been going on in neighbouring Kenya since October last year.