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Police ask military to help remove objects from scene where former spy was found unconscious

Russia has said the claim it poisoned Sergei Skripal is ‘propaganda’.

Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal yesterday in Salisbury, England
Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal yesterday in Salisbury, England
Image: Rufus Cox/Getty Images

Updated: 11.45am

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER Sergei Lavrov today dismissed as “propaganda” accusations that Moscow was behind a nerve agent attack on a former double agent residing in Britain.

British media and politicians have said the attack on Sergei Skripal, who came to Britain in a spy swap in 2010, bears the hallmarks of a Russian operation.

“They’re levelling accusations against us for everything that goes wrong — according to our western partners — on this very planet,” Lavrov said during a visit to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“This is propaganda fair and square and it is trying to raise tension.”

Meanwhile, the national counter-terrorism police overseeing the investigation into the incident, which they are treating attempted murder, have requested help from the military.

In a statement released today, the UK’s Counter Terrorism Policing Network said it has “requested assistance from the military to remove a number of vehicles and objects from the scene in Salisbury town centre as they have the necessary capability and expertise”.

The public should not be alarmed and the public health advice remains the same.

“The military has the expertise and capability to respond to a range of contingencies. The Ministry of Defence regularly assists the emergency services and local authorities in the UK. Military assistance will continue as necessary during this investigation,” the statement said.

21 people injured 

While Britain has not formally blamed Russia for the attack, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it “echoes” the 2006 poisoning in London of former Russian spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko. London blamed Moscow for that attack.

Some 21 people were injured in the incident which took place in the English city of Salisbury where Skripal was found on Sunday, slumped on a bench with his daughter Yulia.

“If action needs to be taken, then the government will do that,” British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged.

Skripal was a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who was jailed for betraying agents to Britain’s MI6 secret service. In 2010, he was pardoned and then flown to Britain as part of a high-profile spy swap involving Russia and the United States.

© AFP 2018 , with reporting by Órla Ryan 

Read: Russian ex-spy and daughter were victims of attempted murder with nerve agent

Read: UK warns foreign states over Russian ex-spy’s suspected poisoning

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