UK deploys soldiers to Salisbury in Russian ex-spy probe | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 09.03.2018
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UK deploys soldiers to Salisbury in Russian ex-spy probe

Around 180 soldiers have been deployed to Salisbury following a nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy and his daughter. British police said the "public should not be alarmed" to see the military on the streets.

The UK on Friday deployed specialist soldiers to the streets of the southern city of Salisbury, where a former Russian spy and his daughter were severely injured by a nerve agent attack.

The UK's national counterterrorism police said it requested assistance in order "to remove a number of vehicles and objects from the scene."

Read more: Outrage in Britain as Russian ex-spy fights for his life

"The public should not be alarmed," said counterterrorism police in a statement. "Military assistance will continue as necessary during this investigation."

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the British armed forces "have the right people with the right skills" to tackle the crime scene. Around 180 soldiers are to be deployed, including Royal Marines and chemical specialists.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia

Sergei Skripal was jailed in Russia for betraying fellow spies and was later released in a prisoner swap with the UK and US

Several casualties

Sergei Skripal, a 66-year-old former military intelligence agent who betrayed several Russian agents to British intelligence, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia remain unconscious in intensive care following the attack.

Nick Bailey, the first police officer on the scene, is also in stable but critical condition. Up to 21 other people were treated for exposure, said Wiltshire Police chief constable Kier Pritchard.

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UK: Russian ex-spy deliberately targeted

Searching for source

British authorities claimed to have identified a rare toxin used in the attack but have yet to name it in public. Officials have suggested that the attack bears the hallmarks of a Russian operation.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said authorities needed to conduct more tests to determine who the culprits are, saying further action "will have to wait until we're absolutely clear what the consequences could be, and what the actual source of this nerve agent has been."

In 2006, ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was killed by radioactive polonium-210, which had been put into his green tea. Moscow has denied any involvement.

ls/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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