Salisbury: British police scrambled on Thursday to determine how a couple were exposed to the same nerve agent used on a former Russian spy earlier this year, leaving them critically ill.
The couple were taken ill on Saturday in the village of Amesbury, close to Salisbury, where former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a bench on March 4 in an incident that sparked a diplomatic crisis with Russia.
“The possibility that these two investigations might be linked is clearly a line of enquiry for us,” said Neil Basu, head of Britain’s counter-terrorism police force. Police announced late on Wednesday that tests on the couple revealed they were exposed to Novichok, but could not say if it was the same batch used on Skripals.
The exposure of an apparently random UK couple to the nerve agent is spreading fear through the normally quiet city in England once again.
Interior minister Sajid Javid is to chair an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday, as counter-terrorism police lead the investigation into the incident. Basu also insisted that there “remains a low risk to the general public,” saying “we’re satisfied that if anyone was exposed to that level of nerve agent by now they would be showing symptoms.” However, many questions remain over the source of contamination and why tests were not conducted on the couple until Monday.