180 troops arrive in Salisbury to investigate poisoning of former Russian spy

180 troops arrive in Salisbury to investigate poisoning of former Russian spy

Dozens of khaki-clad troops trained in chemical warfare were deployed on the streets of the usually sleepy English city of Salisbury yesterday as part of the investigation into the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said after the meeting it was still "too early" to say with certainty who was behind the poisoning that left former Russian military intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in critical condition.

Counterterror investigators, who are treating the attack as attempted murder, have identified the type of nerve agent that the pair were exposed to, but they are not making it public yet.

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.

The military have been providing support since Friday and Rudd said the police would continue to be given all the resources they needed to conduct the investigation.

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The meeting was similar to the ones convened after extremist attacks and other threats to Britain's national security.

The grave of Mr Skripal's wife Liudmila, who was buried in 2012, and the memorial stone of his son Alexander, who was cremated previous year, were cordoned off at the London Road cemetery.

Police are looking for clues to what sickened Skripal, 66, who in 2006 was convicted in Russian Federation of spying for Britain, and his daughter, Yulia, 33.

Officers in protection suits were seen stuffing items in several yellow barrels, believed to be flowers left by Mr Skripal before he was stricken by the nerve agent.

The investigation was focused on the home of Mr Skripal on Saturday amid growing belief that the former spy was poisoned at his home in the small city of Salisbury, 80 miles southwest of London.

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In 2006, Skripal was convicted in Russian Federation of being a double agent and secretly passing classified information to British intelligence.

Apparent fears of chemical contamination have also seen Mr Skripal's home cordoned off while detectives attempt to pin down the origins of the substance used to incapacitate him.

Bob Seely, a Conservative lawmaker and member of the foreign affairs select committee, said the United Kingdom should be cautious about apportioning blame but said circumstantial evidence did raise suspicions of Russian involvement.

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

Bailey is recovering and is well enough to sit up and talk with his family, according to Rudd. One theory is that the Skripals were poisoned in his house before visiting a restaurant and a pub and becoming ill. The public should not be alarmed and the public health advice remains the same, ? the Scotland Yard said in a statement.

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Around 180 military personnel have been drafted into Salisbury, removing objects and vehicles, including ambulances that may have been contaminated.

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