Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We're on Trail of Poison Squad -- Minister; RUSSIA URGED TO 'PUT WRONG RIGHT' AND BRING NOVICHOK GANG TO JUSTICEHundred Terror Police Join Poison Gang Hunt

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We're on Trail of Poison Squad -- Minister; RUSSIA URGED TO 'PUT WRONG RIGHT' AND BRING NOVICHOK GANG TO JUSTICEHundred Terror Police Join Poison Gang Hunt

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil, Barney Davis and Justin Davenport

HITMEN who poisoned five in Wiltshire with military-grade Novichok may be identified in months, a minister said today. Experts said the net is closing on the assassination squad who targeted former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4 and also infected Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

Two more victims, Dawn Sturgess and Continued on Page 6 Continued from Page 1 Charlie Rowley, are thought to have been accidentally poisoned, possibly after picking up a syringe or other item contaminated with the nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals.

Around 100 counter-terror officers are working on the case as police race to find the source of the Novichok that affected the couple, who fell ill on Saturday at Mr Rowley's home in Amesbury, about nine miles from Salisbury. As health chiefs warned residents to take precautions against the risk of further infections, Russia was urged to help police with their investigations.

Security minister Ben Wallace told BBC radio: "I'm sure that no matter how long this takes, because we have worldleading expertise in this country, we will eventually find out who did it and what happened. That may take years, that may take months."

Chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon added: "I understand the security services and the police are pretty convinced they are going to find and get a resolution to who attacked [the Skripals]. The Russians could get on the front foot and help us out here."

The Kremlin has strongly denied any Russian involvement in the attack.

Health chiefs insisted this morning that the latest two victims were not believed to have visited the sites that have undergone a multi-million-pound "clean-up" operation after the Skripals were poisoned. However, this immediately raised the question that not all infected sites had been identified.

Baroness Scott, leader of Wiltshire council, stressed: "The sooner we can get to the bottom of this, the better. …

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