UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations has urged Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to immediately halt military operation against Rohingya Muslims.

In an interview with BBC, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said if Aung San Suu Kyi does not reverse the situation now, then the tragedy will be “absolutely horrible”.

He warned the offensive could amount to ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar: Rohingya rebels declare temporary ceasefire for humanitarian aid

The UN chief reiterated that the Rohingya Muslims should be allowed to return home.

Myanmar says it is responding to last month’s deadly attacks by militants and denies it is targeting civilians.

The military launched its operation after the attacks on police in the northern Rakhine state.

Aung San Suu Kyi – a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent many years under house arrest in the junta-run Myanmar (Burma) – is now facing growing criticism over the Rohingya issue.

She will not be attending the UN General Assembly in New York, and has claimed that the crisis is being distorted by a “huge iceberg of misinformation”.

She said tensions were being fanned by fake news promoting the interests of terrorists.

Guterres’ warning comes after Bangladesh said it was now limiting the movement of more than 400,000 Rohingya who have fled from Myanmar.