MOSCOW - A fire in a camp for internally displaced persons has claimed the lives of six representatives of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine, U Thaw Dar, the head of the state's Fire Services Department, said on Friday.

The incident occurred in the camp, located in the vicinity of Rakhine's capital of Sittwe, at around 11:00 p.m. local time on Thursday [16:00 GMT], as a bamboo matting caught fire. "Fifteen buildings burned down and six people died," Dar told the Irrawaddy media outlet. Over 880 people have been left without shelter, they are now temporarily accommodated at their relatives' houses. Each of the destroyed one-storey buildings had eight rooms. Following the 2012 clashes between Rohingya Muslims and the Buddhist Rakhine population, the Rakhine state government opened several camps for internally displaced persons, which were mostly populated by Rohingyas.

Since 2014, the government has been seeking to close the camps against the backdrop of tense relations with Rohingya.

Tensions escalated in August 2017, when the Myanmar government deployed military and police forces in Rakhine. Rohingyas, who have no Myanmar citizenship, as the government claims that they are Bangladeshi migrants occupying Rakhine, have been actively fleeing the state since then. Global human rights bodies have repeatedly slammed the country's government for discrimination and violence toward Rohingya.