UK police find source of Novichok nerve
agent in small bottle
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[July 14, 2018]
LONDON (Reuters) - British
counter-terrorism police said on Friday they believed they had found the
source of the Novichok nerve agent that killed a woman in southwest
England and left her partner critically ill in hospital.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, died this month, just over a week after she was
exposed to Novichok near the city of Salisbury where Russian double
agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were struck down with the
same poison in March.
Sturgess' partner, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley from Amesbury, a town a
few miles from Salisbury, is now recovering in hospital.
"On Wednesday ... a small bottle was recovered during searches of
Charlie Rowley's house in Amesbury," police said in a statement.
"Scientists have now confirmed to us that the substance contained within
the bottle is Novichok."
More tests were being carried out to try and establish whether it is
from the same batch that contaminated the Skripals and inquiries were
under way to establish where the bottle came from, the statement added.
"This is clearly a significant and positive development. However, we
cannot guarantee that there isnít any more of the substance left," said
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing.
He declined to give further details on the bottle, but police said
inquiries were ongoing to establish where the bottle came from and how
it came into Rowley's possession.
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Police forensic tents can be seen to the rear of John Baker House,
after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the
nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018.
Further tests are also being carried out to see if the Novichok came
from the same batch that was applied to the front door of Skripal's
house in Salisbury.
Britain and its allies blamed Russia for the attack in March on the
Skripals, prompting the biggest Western expulsion of Russian
diplomats since the Cold War. Moscow has rejected the accusations
and has hit back by expelling Western diplomats.
Britain has invited independent technical experts from the
international chemical weapons watchdog to travel to the UK early
next week to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent,
the British Foreign Office said on Friday.
An inquest into Sturgess' death is set to open and adjourn in
Salisbury on next Thursday.
(Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Michael Holden)
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