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A poice officer stands guard outside a branch of the Italian chain restaurant Zizzi close to The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury. AFP/Getty Images

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

A former Russian spy and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench in England.

Updated at 6pm

THE FORMER RUSSIAN double-agent who collapsed in a British town alongside his daughter was the victim of attempted murder with a nerve agent, the Metropolitan Police has said.

“This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder by administration of a nerve agent”, said Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley.

Rowley said they would not be providing further information at this stage about the exact substance that has been identified.

66-year-old Sergei Skripal is in hospital along with his daughter after reportedly being exposed to a deadly substance.

A former colonel with Russian military intelligence, Skripal was sentenced in 2006 to 13 years in jail in Russia on charges of spying for Britain but was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the United States and Russia in 2010.

Rowley confirmed that Met Police believe that the pair were targeted specifically.

‘Not necessarily terrorism’

An update earlier from the Met Police says that the two, who were found on a bench in a shopping centre in Salisbury, remain in hospital and critically ill. The Met Police said the incident is not necessarily terrorism.

“[Yesterday] it was confirmed that the Counter Terrorism Policing network had taken over the lead for the investigation, due to the unusual circumstances and the specialist expertise the network can bring to the investigation.

It has not been declared a terrorist incident and we continue to keep an open mind as to what happened.

Speaking this afternoon, Rowley said: “Of course public safety remains a priority. This is clearly an awful incident and I know that local people will be concerned, but I would stress at the moment we are not seeing any evidence of a widespread health risk.”

The Met Police said officers have carried out CCTV enquiries and spoken to a number of people as part of the inquiry.

They are now appealing to anybody who visited Salisbury town centre and surrounding areas on Sunday afternoon and has not yet spoken to police to get in touch.

They are keen to speak to anyone who visited Zizzi restaurant on Castle Street and The Bishop’s Mill pub in The Maltings.

Man Taken Ill In Market Town Centre Is Former Russian Spy CCTV footage on a mobile phone believed to show Sergei Skripal, 66 and his duaghter Yulia Skripal, in her 30s. Dan Kitwood Dan Kitwood

Britain yesterday warned it would respond “robustly” if it emerged that a government was behind the suspected poisoning.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson even suggested England could pull out of the 2018 football World Cup in Russia if it were shown to be behind the incident.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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

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