Almost 200 troops sent to Salisbury to help police after poisoning of Russian spy


Some 180 troops are being sent to Salisbury to help police investigating the nerve agent poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Counter-terrorism police asked for military assistance to remove vehicles and objects from the scene in the city centre, much of which has been cordoned off over contamination fears.

The troops include Royal Marines, RAF and chemical specialists, are understood to have been deployed.

The Metropolitan Police said the units were called in because they had ‘the necessary capability and expertise’.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (Rex)
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (Rex)

A spokesman said: ‘The public should not be alarmed and the public health advice remains the same.

‘Military assistance will continue as necessary during this investigation.’

Home Secretary Amber Rudd visited the city centre Friday and the hospital where Mr Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, remain after they were targeted in an ‘outrageous’ chemical attack.

Ms Rudd said the pair are in a ‘very serious’ condition five days after they were discovered slumped on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd visited Salisbury on Friday (Rex)
Home Secretary Amber Rudd visited Salisbury on Friday (Rex)


Counter-terrorism police launched an attempted murder inquiry after Mr Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a nerve agent.

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was part of the initial response by authorities, is also in hospital, and has been named by authorities.

Speaking after meeting Wiltshire Police Temporary Chief Constable Kier Pritchard in Salisbury, Ms Rudd said: ‘Still very serious for the two people who were indeed the subject of this outrageous attack and for the police officer, I understand it’s still serious, although he’s still conversing and engaging.’

The army have been called in to help police (PA)
The army have been called in to help police (PA)

The nerve agent used in the attack was identified in scientific tests by Government experts earlier this week but it has yet to be named publicly.

Ms Rudd declined to reveal any further details about the substance, how it was deployed, or who is suspected of carrying out the poisoning.

She said: ‘I understand people’s curiosity about all those questions, wanting to have answers, and there will be a time to have those answers.

‘But the best way to get to them is to give the police the space they need to really go through the area carefully, to do their investigation and to make sure that they have all the support that they need.’

Police have revealed that 21 people have been treated for exposure to the nerve agent (Rex)
Police have revealed that 21 people have been treated for exposure to the nerve agent (Rex)

The circumstances of the attack, and its echoes of the fatal poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, have prompted questions over the Government’s response if the evidence points to a state-sponsored assassination plot.

The minister added: ‘At the moment our priority is going to be the incident, which is why I’m here in Salisbury today, making sure that everybody’s protected around the incident, making sure the emergency services have had the support that they need and will continue to get it.’

Police said 21 people had been seen for medical treatment since the incident.

How the incident unfolded (Rex)
How the incident unfolded (Rex)

Russia has denied responsibility for the attack, which comes seven years after Mr Skripal was released from the country as part of a spy swap with the US.

He was convicted in his home country in 2006 for passing state secrets to MI6.

On Thursday, officers sealed off the gravestone of Mr Skripal’s wife Liudmila, who was buried in 2012, and the memorial stone of his son Alexander, who was cremated last year, as the trail of evidence grew.

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