Myanmar denies use of chemical weapons against rebels

A presidential spokesman in Myanmar denied accusations on Thursday that it used chemical weapons against ethnic minority rebels in the country's northern state of Kachin.

Ye Htut said that the Kachin Independence Army is wrongly accusing the government. The rebels said on Wednesday that the government used chemical weapons multiple times in an effort to occupy important posts during an escalating civil war, AFP reports.

"Our military never uses chemical weapons and we have no intention to use them at all," Htut said, according to AFP. "I think the KIA is accusing us wrongly."

James Lum Dau, a KIA spokesman, said that soldiers lost consciousness when the weapon shells exploded and that everybody in the area has suffered after the attacks. The attacks followed the recent use of air strikes in the area by the government.

In December, Myanmar police were accused of using chemical weapons to stop a protest at a China-backed copper mine. Witnesses said that protestors and other people present were being treated for burns from some type of firebomb, reports.

The KIA rebels previously accused the army of using chemical weapons in late 2011.

In June 2011, a 17-year ceasefire between the KIA and the government broke down, prompting the conflict. Since its beginning, tens of thousands of people were displaced, AFP reports.