WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged an immediate end to religious violence in Myanmar and called for efforts for reconciliation as security forces tried to restore order.

At least seven people have died since Friday in western Myanmar in a cycle of apparent revenge attacks between majority Buddhists and the Muslim minority. AFP reporters saw charred remains of houses, and troops outside monasteries and mosques.

"The United States continues to be deeply concerned about reports of ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence in western Burma's Rakhine State and urges all parties to exercise restraint and immediately halt all attacks," Clinton said, referring to Myanmar by its former name.

"We urge the people of Burma to work together toward a peaceful, prosperous and democratic country that respects the rights of all its diverse peoples," she said in a statement.

Clinton also urged an "expeditious and transparent" investigation into the recent violence.

It was the third public statement by the US State Department on the recent unrest in Myanmar, albeit the first from Clinton.

President Barack Obama's administration has made Myanmar a top priority, with Clinton paying a historic visit in December to encourage reforms that have included the release and political participation of opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

President Thein Sein has declared Rakhine under emergency rule in what observers call a major test for the reform-minded former general.