British police have identified more than 200 witnesses and are looking at more than 240 pieces of evidence in their investigation into a nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy and his daughter, interior minister Amber Rudd said on Saturday. Beyond Syria, Russian terror extends to Britain.
Former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, have been in hospital in a critical condition since Sunday, when they were found unconscious on a bench in the southern English cathedral city of Salisbury.
Rudd told reporters:
“The two victims remain in hospital and they’re critical but stable,”
Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest in Moscow in 2004. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006, and in 2010 was given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies.
Many in British media and politics believe Russia has played a part in the attack on Skripal.
In Salisbury, normally a quiet city, military vehicles and troops in protective suits and gas masks were seen working at several of the sites associated with the Skripal investigation.
At an ambulance station a short distance from the city center, troops in light grey overalls, purple gloves and gas masks covered ambulances with black tarpaulins as they prepared to remove them.
At the hospital where the Skripals were being treated another team used an army truck to remove a police car.
Beyond Syria, Russian terror extends to Britain.
TRACES OF NERVE AGENT
The BBC reported late on Saturday that traces of the nerve agent had been found at Zizzi, an Italian restaurant where the Skripals had a meal before they were found unconscious. A police spokesman declined to comment on the report.
The restaurant, which has been closed to the public since Sunday, was one of the sites being investigated by forensic teams. The BBC, without citing a source, reported that the authorities did not think anyone else who had been there was at risk from the nerve agent.
Rudd said more than 250 counter terrorism police, from eight out of Britain’s 11 specialist units, were involved in the investigation, which was proceeding with “speed and professionalism”.
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.
There was also a flurry of activity at the cemetery in Salisbury where Skripal’s wife and son are buried, with forensic teams active in several parts of the site.
Skripal’s son, Alexander, died in July last year at the age of 43. British media reported that he died while in St Petersburg, Russia. Skripal’s wife, Liudmila, died of cancer at 60, in 2012.
British police have previously said they knew which exact nerve agent was used against Skripal and his daughter, but they have not made that information public.
The attack has been likened to the assassination of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who died in London in 2006 after drinking green tea laced with radioactive polonium-210.
Reuters contributed to this article.