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UK calls for explanation from Russia after second Novichok poisoning

Thursday, 5 July, 2018 - 16:12

As the similarities multiply between the cases of two Britons found on Tuesday in critical condition in Amesbury and the poisoning, in March, of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Britain’s interior minister, Sajid Javid, has urged the Russian government for an explanation.

The Kremlin responded on Thursday saying it does not have information “on the substance used or the way it was used,” adding that they are “very concerned” at “the repeated use of such substances in Europe.”

Moscow accused London of never having wanted a joint investigation into the Skripal case.

“…the Russian side offered a joint investigation to the British counterpart, and this proposal remained without any response,” the Kremlin spokesman told reporters.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the police would “move heaven and earth to determine what happened.”

“To see two new people exposed to Novichok in the UK is obviously extremely worrying,” she said on a visit to Berlin on Thursday.

The United Kingdom anti-terrorist services resumed the investigation after a military laboratory identified the nature of the substance, a neurotoxic agent of Soviet design. Novichok breaks the connection between the nervous system and the muscles, gradually preventing the victim from breathing.

“It’s the same innervating agent [as that found in the case of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia]. It will be up to the scientists to determine if it comes from the same lot,” Neil Basu, head of UK counter-terrorism, told reporters at a news conference. The police have not, at this stage, been able to establish the mechanism of transmission of the poison, he added.

According to Mr. Basu, there is “no evidence” suggesting that the man and the woman “were targeted in any way”, and the police  reassured the media that the risk to the public remained “low”.

The two victims, a couple, were found on Saturday in a house on Muggleton Road, in a residential area of ​​Amesbury. According to Mr Basu, “there is no indication” that they “recently visited any of the decontaminated sites after the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal”.

Several security cordons were set up in places where the two 40-year-olds visited, and the police presence was reinforced in both Amesbury and Salisbury.


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