UK demands Russia explain nerve attack after two more people struck down

Britain demanded on Thursday that Russia provide details about the Novichok nerve agent attack on a former double agent and his daughter after two British citizens were struck down with the same poison.

The two Britons, a 44-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man, were critically ill after an apparently chance encounter with the poison near the site of the March attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Britain has accused Russia of poisoning the Skripals with Novichok – a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military during the Cold War – in what is the first known offensive use of such a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two.

Russia, which is currently hosting the soccer World Cup, has denied any involvement in the March incident and suggested the British security services had carried out the attack to stoke anti-Moscow hysteria.

“The eyes of the world are currently on Russia, not least because of the World Cup,” British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said. “It is now time that the Russian state comes forward and explains what has gone on.”

“It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks and towns to be dumping grounds for poison,” he told parliament.

The Kremlin said Russia had offered Britain its assistance in investigating the nerve agent attack and had been rebuffed.

Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Berlin, said it was “deeply disturbing” that two more people had been exposed to Novichok, adding her thoughts were with the people of the area.

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