Tensions spike between U.K., Russia over nerve agent case

Aaron Brown
July 8, 2018

British police have confirmed that a man and woman critically ill from nerve-agent poisoning were exposed to the toxin by handling a contaminated item.

British counterterrorism experts are working with police, but this incident has not been declared as a terror attack. They went on to stress that the "risk to the wider public remains low", and that the hospital has seen "a number of members of the public" who have had health concerns since the incident in Amesbury, noting that "none have required any treatment". They may have picked up the contaminated object in Queen Elizabeth Gardens, where they relaxed that afternoon before returning to Sturgess' room at the shelter and then to Rowley's apartment.

Like the Skripals, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were sickened by the nerve agent novichok, British police said.

Scientists say there's no easy way to use technology to locate the container thought to be the source of the Novichok.

The poison that struck down two Britons has been identified as the same strand of Novichok nerve agent that was used in the attempted murder in March of a former Russian agent and his daughter, Britain's interior minister Sajid Javid said on Thursday.

Sturgess and Rowley were residing "barely eight miles" from the site of the original poisoning, according to the Guardian.

They are both now receiving treatment for exposure to the nerve agent Novichok at Salisbury District Hospital. He said it was "completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets", and warned about towns in the United Kingdom becoming "dumping grounds" for nerve agents.

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The unexplained poisoning of two British citizens with no immediately apparent link to Russian Federation has raised public health concerns in Salisbury, where a massive decontamination effort took place after the Skripals were poisoned.

Several sites in the city and nearby Amesbury that were visited by the couple have been cordoned off, including a park, a pharmacy, a church and a supermarket. "However, on the other hand, we have no information about which substances were used or how they were used".

Eager tourists, drawn by an unusually long spell of glorious summer weather, were back at Stonehenge, and England's World Cup team was surging, buoying spirits.

In a statement, the Russian embassy in London said: "It is regrettable that official representatives are trying to link the second poisoning to Russia, having failed to provide any results of the probe into the first one. The possibility that the two investigations might be linked is clearly a key line of inquiry for police".

Public Health England has repeated "highly precautionary advice" for people who had visited five locations identified by police, but insisted there is no immediate health risk. Then a local couple with no obvious connection to Russian Federation or to espionage fell desperately ill and the government said Novichok was to blame.

The source added that Novichok is sensitive to moisture and loses its potency with contact to water or "prolonged exposure to the air".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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