Czech police announce manhunt for two Russian nationals matching Skripal-poisoners’ description

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian Embassy staff over 2014 blast

"Eighteen employees of the Russian embassy must leave our republic within 48 hours", Hamacek told reporters.

Two Russian men suspected of carrying out the Salisbury poisoning of Sergei Skripal in 2018 are being linked to an explosion at an arms depot in the Czech Republic four years earlier.

"There is a reasonable suspicion that Russian secret agents of the GRU service were involved in the 2014 explosions of an ammunition dump in the Czech village of Vrbětice", he said.

He also said a GRU unit, specialising in foreign assassinations and operations to destabilise European countries, was involved.

The explosion occurred at an ammunition factory in in the town of Vrbetice, some 330 kilometers (205 miles) southeast of Prague, in October 2014.

Czech police said Saturday that they were searching for two men "in connection with the investigation" of a 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetice, releasing images of the Salisbury suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

'The explosion led to huge material damage and posed a serious threat to the lives of many local people, but above all it killed two of our fellow citizens, fathers of families, ' Babis said.

Last month, US President Joe Biden said he thought his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was a "killer" and Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations. Following the attack in England, investigative journalists identified Petrov and Boshirov as aliases for Russian military intelligence officers named Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga.

However, UK authorities said they were members of the GRU and had smeared the nerve agent on a door handle belonging to Mr Skripal, a former GRU officer.

"We're in a similar situation like Britain in the attempted poisoning case in Salisbury in 2018", Hamacek said, without elaborating.

Warsaw also expressed solidarity with the USA, which earlier that day had announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington said was the Kremlin's United States election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.



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