(Monrovia, Liberia-AP) -- Officials in Liberia fear the number of deaths from heavy fighting will climb even higher. The defense minister of the west African nation claims more than 600 people have been killed as rebels and government forces fight for the capital Monrovia. The number can't be independently confirmed. Aid groups and hospitals have put the death toll at more than 90. They also expect the number of deaths to rise. Meantime, in an interview with The Associated Press, embattled Liberian leader Charles Taylor repeated his call for a promised west African peacekeeping force to enter the nation. But he says the best way to bring order is through U.S. troops on the ground, in addition to Marines guarding the U.S. Embassy. Meantime, a barrage of mortars is rocking neighborhoods in the capital, along with two U.S. Embassy compounds. It's the rebels' third attempt to take Monrovia.