Fifty people have been killed and scores wounded in communal clashes in western Myanmar, state media said Saturday, as the UN warned of "immense hardship" faced by thousands displaced by rioting.
State mouthpiece the New Light of Myanmar said 50 people have died, with 54 injured between May 28 and June 14 in Rakhine state, which has been convulsed by violence between local Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.
The report did not say whether the updated toll includes 10 Muslims beaten to death on June 3 by a Buddhist mob in apparent revenge for the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman, which sparked the violence.
A senior state official on Thursday said 29 people -- 16 Muslims and 13 Buddhists -- had been killed, but rights groups and other local sources believe the real figure in Rakhine's remote villages could be much higher.
Police enforced a curfew in the state capital Sittwe overnight, with New Light saying security forces were "restoring peace, stability and security" after the unrest, which poses a serious challenge to Myanmar's reform-minded government.
Nearly 31,900 people from both sides are being housed in 37 camps across Rakhine, officials in Sittwe said on Thursday, while thousands of homes have been torched.
A United Nation's team witnessed the devastation on a two-day visit to the region, saying that around 10,000 displaced people were sheltering in Sittwe alone.
"It has come to the attention of the UN that the extent of the destruction of both the Rakhine and Islamic community in Sittwe is very large. These people are facing immense hardship," it said in a statement late Friday.
Pledging help for the affected area, UN special adviser Vijay Nambiar urged Myanmar to carry out a "full, impartial and credible" probe into the clashes.
The shells of torched houses dot Sittwe's streets, an AFP reporter in a predominantly Muslim village on the outskirts of city said late Friday, adding thousands of displaced people are sheltering from monsoon rains in tents.
"We want to go back to our place to stay back with our family, our children," Hla Myint, 56, a Muslim religious leader in Sittwe told AFP.
Decades of discrimination have left the Muslim Rohingya stateless and viewed by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minorities on the planet.
About 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar, according to the UN, mostly in Rakhine.
The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya to be foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and view them with hostility.
The Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya in the region have accused each other of violent attacks, and in recent days local residents have been seen on the streets wielding knives, swords and sticks.
Myanmar's President Thein Sein has warned the violence could disrupt the nation's fragile democratic reforms as it emerges from decades of army-rule.
It also poses a dilemma for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, currently on a historic trip to Europe, who has faced pressure from Rohingya to speak up on their behalf but risks angering Myanmar's Buddhist majority.
Speaking in Geneva on Thursday the Nobel laureate stressed "the need for rule of law" when asked about the sectarian unrest. She is due to deliver her formal 1991 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo on Saturday.