City in fear over poisoned spy
● Residents of the English cathedral city of Salisbury accused authorities of “keeping them in the dark” after 180 troops trained in chemical warfare joined a nerve-agent investigation.
The investigation concerns the attempted assassination of a Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, eight days ago.
Skripal spied for the British while he was a senior Russian military intelligence officer.
British counterterror police are investigating whether his daughter, Yulia, 33, inadvertently brought a gift for her father from Moscow that contained the nerve agent, planted by Russian intelligence in her luggage. Both are critically ill in hospital.
Specialists from the RAF and Royal Marines removed for analysis materials believed contaminated by the Skripals.
It emerged that the spy may have been poisoned at his home, meaning that the nerve agent could have been in his system for hours before he collapsed in the city centre a week ago.
Chemical weapons experts said this could mean that a new strain of nerve agent — which was slower to take effect — may have been used to target Skripal.
A detective made seriously ill by the nerve agent is now thought to have been contaminated at Skripal’s home, having been one of the first officers to go there.
If analysis of the nerve agent points to the Russians, British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce sanctions against Moscow as soon as tomorrow.
Police said there was no need for alarm, but residents said they were fearful.
David Bayfield, 76, who runs a butchery stall close to the bench where the Skripals collapsed, said: “Everyone is saying it’s fine, but there are police everywhere and now the army. How can it be fine?
“We know he went to the pub but where else did he go? Who did he brush past? Who did he touch?
“I don’t think we’ve been told the whole truth.”