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English City Of Salisbury Declared ‘Novichok Free’ After Poisoning Incidents

Updated

Skripal's home was the last of 12 potentially contaminated sites in the city to be ruled safe after some 13,000 hours of cleaning work. (file photo)

The English city of Salisbury has been officially declared free of the nerve agent Novichok on March 1, almost a year after the poison attack there that Britain and the West blamed on Russia.

Military specialists have handed control of the final site associated with the attack -- former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal's home in the city -- to the local government, Brigadier David Southall said in a statement.

Skripal's home was the last of 12 potentially contaminated sites in the city to be ruled safe after some 13,000 hours of cleaning work done by military teams.

Southall said the military had led the "incredibly complex decontamination work" in Salisbury and the nearby town of Amesbury.

"The handover of the site at [Skripal's former home] effectively now concludes the significant military contribution to support Salisbury and Amesbury following the Novichok nerve agent attack," he said.

Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-made military nerve agent, in March 2018.

They survived the poisoning after being hospitalized in critical condition. But two other British citizens from Amesbury were exposed to the nerve agent in June, apparently by accident; one of them, Dawn Sturgess, died.

The other, Charlie Rowley, still suffers from health problems linked to the poisoning.

Russia has repeatedly denied that its agents were behind the attack and accused British intelligence agencies of staging the incident to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats in the wake of the scandal.

Russia in response expelled the same number of British diplomats and ordered the closure of the British Consulate-General in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, and the British Council’s offices operating in the country.

The United States and European Union also expelled Russian diplomats and added to their existing sanctions on Moscow.

There has since been some easing of the diplomatic restrictions.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and BBC
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