"The Liberia National Police, the Emergency Response Unit and United Nations Military Mission in Liberia have been deployed in the affected areas, and a dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed."

Churches burnt 

Witnesses told Reuters that rioters had burnt down the Catholic, Baptist and Episcopal churches in the area.

And George Tengbeh, a local government official, said the violence was sparked after unconfirmed rumours spread that a mosque had been attacked by residents in another town in the region.

He said Muslim residents went on a rampage, burning down two churches, a clinic, shops and the mayor's residence.

Human rights observers say violence that is triggered by religious incidents in the first instance often becomes politicised, and can involve disputes over land or property.

UN troops help

United Nations has deployed peacekeepers to the northern Liberian town.

Yasmina Bouziane, a UN spokeswoman told AFP: "We have sent an additional team ... to calm the situation down."

“There is an ongoing investigation into the actual incident.  There was an outbreak of violence locally which needed to be brought into control."

Some 10,000 members of the peacekeeping force are stationed in Liberia tasked with restoring peace since 2003, the end of a string  of civil wars in which some 250,000 people died since 1989.

About two-fifths of the 3.3 million population in the west African nation are Christians and about one-fifth Muslim with the rest of the population following mostly traditional beliefs.