Sergei Skripal: Nerve Agents Used in the Attempted Murder

British Police Commissioner Mark Rowley
British Police Commissioner Mark Rowley

The British Police said a nerve agent was used in an attempt to ‘murder a former Russian spy and his daughter’, BBC reported.

A former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who has been living in the UK through a spy swap, was found unconscious and critically ill along with his 30 years old daughter Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on Sunday.

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

Commissioner Rowley said the police officer who attended the scene first was in serious condition and being treated in a hospital.

“Having established that a nerve agent is the cause of the symptoms… I can also confirm that we believe that the two people who became unwell were targeted specifically.”

Nerve agents are a class of phosphorus-containing organic chemicals (organophosphates) that disrupt the mechanisms by which nerves transfer messages to organs. The disruption is caused by blocking acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.

Mr. Rowley said there is no possibility of a widespread public health risk because of the nerve agent attack.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has warned the UK will respond robustly if it is found that Russia poisoned the spy.

 “I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on UK soil will go unsanctioned or unpunished,” Johnson said, later calling the Russian state “in many respects a malign and disruptive force”.

Acknowledging that the UK may continue to pay a price for the sanctions against Russia, Mr. Johnson urged the MPs to support the government initiatives against Russia which “inflicted considerable damage on the Russian economy.”

“It is too early to speculate as to the precise nature of the crime or attempted crime that has taken place in Salisbury,” he said. “But I know members will have their suspicions. If those suspicions prove to be well-founded then this government will take whatever measures we deem necessary to protect the lives of the people in this country, our values, and our freedoms.”

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat said the attack may be “a form of soft war that Russian is now conducting against the west.”

 “It is quite clear we are seeing a pattern of Russian behavior. This is what the KGB would call demoralize, destabilize, bring to crisis and then normalize. This requires a whole of government response and his department [FCO] is best placed to lead that response.”

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