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At least seven people have been killed after violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in the western Burmese state of Rakhine.

According to reports, the violence had begun on Friday in the town of Maungdaw, before spreading to state capital Sittwe and neighbouring villages.

One report has put the actual number of dead at 25 with most of the Muslim residents in the affected areas of Rakhine state being relocated.

President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency on Sunday night.

Rakhine state is named after the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist majority, but also has a sizeable Muslim population, including the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas are a Muslim group who Burma considers as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

This violence is reported to have been provoked by the murder of a Buddhist woman last month when a bus carrying pilgrims was attacked by Muslims.