Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

United Kingdom pair poisoned by same nerve agent as ex-Russian spy Skripal

United Kingdom pair poisoned by same nerve agent as ex-Russian spy Skripal

More than 100 officers were looking for clues Friday in a race to understand how two local people in Amesbury were exposed to a nerve agent produced in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The Kremlin was responding to comments made by British Security Minister Ben Wallace, who said earlier Thursday that he's still waiting to hear from the Russian government about the March attack on Skripal.

The Russians have denied these claims, and have accused the United Kingdom of staging the entire thing just to make Russia look bad.

The British Home Secretary has demanded that Russian Federation explain how a nerve agent that only its government reportedly had access to has shown up a second time on British soil.

There is no evidence the pair had recently visited the affected areas in Salisbury, which British authorities decontaminated after Skripal's poisoning.

The new victims were found in Amesbury, England, just a few miles from the scene of the alleged assassination attempt in March, and officials now believe they are likely secondary, unintended victims of that attack.

The Kremlin's spokesman says Russian Federation is concerned but has had nothing to do with either poisoning case.

The Metropolitan Police force said Thursday that "following further tests of samples from the patients, we now know that they were exposed to the nerve agent after handling a contaminated item".

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The source added that Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess's symptoms were the same as those shown by Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Skripal, 67, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia, who was visiting from Moscow, collapsed on March 4 in Salisbury and were treated for an extended period of time before being released from hospital.

"It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison".

The two people struck down have been named locally as 44-year-old man Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, 45. "So while the public at large are at very low risk from this material, until the source is found there is a remote chance that someone else might come into contact with it".

But it wasn't until Wednesday night that lab results confirmed the dreaded news, delivered by Scotland Yard, that "the man and woman have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok".

After the Skripal poisoning, police investigators in protective hazmat suits scoured the ancient English cathedral city of Salisbury and Mr Basu cautioned that police in protective clothing would return to the area.

Sturgess was living in a homeless hostel in Salisbury, while Rowley lived in the small town of Amesbury nearby. Sturgess and Rowley have no known links to Russian Federation. They had a timeline of the Skripals' movements in Salisbury as they became ill, and spent millions of pounds cleaning those known sites.

Authorities initially believed the pair had taken a bad batch of heroin or crack cocaine. Sam Hobson, a friend of the couple, said he had visited Salisbury with them the day before they fell ill.

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