UK Anti-Terrorism Police Called In as Unknown Substance Leaves 2 Critical

Jul 07, 2018, 03:19
UK Anti-Terrorism Police Called In as Unknown Substance Leaves 2 Critical

British police are scouring sections of Salisbury and Amesbury in southwest England, searching for a container feared to be contaminated with traces of the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday accused Moscow of using Britain as a "dumping ground for poison" as the Government confronted Russian Federation over the second nerve agent emergency in four months.

Mr Javid called on Russian Federation to explain "exactly what has gone on", adding: "We will stand up to the actions that threaten our security".

"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", Javid said.

Britain blamed the poisoning of the Skripals on Russian Federation, prompting a serious diplomatic crisis between Moscow and Western states.

He said that Sturgess fell ill first then Rowley later on.

- The UK reported the incident to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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". They did not elaborate.

A British police officer guards a cordon which was extended overnight to include the Lush House auto park adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Gardens park in Salisbury, England, Thursday, July 5, 2018.

The pair remain in critical condition after being rushed on Saturday to Salisbury District Hospital, the same hospital that treated former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who were poisoned in March.

Speaking to Parliament on Thursday, Interior Minister Sajid Javid said a link between the cases was "clearly the main line of inquiry" and demanded Moscow explain itself. Officials are also working to decontaminate the area in hopes of avoiding any additional exposures.

Officials said the officers were keeping "an open mind" to see where the evidence leads them.

Sturgess and Rowley collapsed in Amesbury, a few miles away, over the weekend.

The two men returned to the flat and planned to visit the hospital but Mr Rowley "started feeling really hot and sweaty" and began "acting all funny", Mr Hobson, 29, said.

"Last weekend we held a community fundraiser and we understand this may well be the last event this couple went to in public", he said.

After the Skripal poisoning, police investigators in protective suits scoured Salisbury.

A hospital spokeswoman said Thursday they were "acutely ill" and the focus of their treatment was "stabilisation".

The March attack prompted the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War as allies sided with May's view that Moscow was either responsible or had lost control of the nerve agent.

Moscow has hit back by expelling Western diplomats, questioning how Britain knows that Russian Federation was responsible and offering its rival interpretations, including that it amounted to a plot by British secret services.

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