Amesbury (England), July 5: Months after the suspicious poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his Russia-based daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, by Novichok nerve agent, another instance of poisoning has emerged in Amesbury, which is just eight miles from Salisbury in the same county of Wiltshire in south-west England.
Charley Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, both British nationals and in their mid-40s, were found critically ill in a flat in Amesbury on Saturday, June 30, after contacting a substance linked to the poisoning of the Skripals in March which had led to a major diplomatic face-off between the West and Russia.
Counter-terror police sources confirmed that they were poisoned by nerve agent Novichok, which was produced by the former Soviet Union since the 1970s and later by Russia in the early 1990s.
Neil Basu, who took over the assistant commissioner of Metropolitan Police a few months earlier, said the two victims had "nothing in their background" to suggest any reason for the attack.
On Wednesday, July 4, Basu said the police were investigating if there was a link between the Amesbury and Salisbury incidents.
He also said the initial probe suggested that the duo had fallen ill after using drugs from a potentially contaminated batch. Samples from both the victims were sent to Porton Down laboratory for analysis. It was the same laboratory which had in April said that it could not be established whether the Novichok nerve agent used against the Skripals was made in Russia.
Basu said that only after a detailed analysis of the samples can they confirm that Rowley and Sturgess had been exposed to Novichok, the Evening Standard reported. Both patients were still critical in hospital and the police were trying to contact their relatives.