08/03/2018 5:24 AM AEDT | Updated 08/03/2018 6:06 AM AEDT

Former Russian Spy Poisoned By Nerve Agent, UK Investigators Say

Sergei Skripal and his daughter are still in critical condition.

Detectives in the United Kingdom have found that former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a nerve agent and are referring to the incident as “attempted murder.”

Government experts in the U.K. have tested and identified the specific nerve agent, according to a police report. However, authorities are not commenting further on whether they know the source of the agent.

Skripal, 66, a former colonel in the Russian military intelligence, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious in Salisbury on Sunday. They were both still in critical condition as of Wednesday and in intensive care. A police officer who responded at the scene is also in serious condition and is being treated in intensive care.

Skripal was convicted by Russia in 2006 of spying for Britain, and was given refuge in the U.K. in 2010 as part of a high-profile “spy swap.”

Toby Melville / Reuters
Police officers stand near a park bench in Salisbury, England, on which former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious after they had been exposed to an unknown substance. 

Police are still looking into who was behind the attack, which they say specifically targeted the victims.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday that it was “too early to speculate” about what had happened to Skripal and his daughter, but noted that Britain would “respond appropriately and robustly” if the Russian government were found responsible.

The Kremlin has denied having any information about the incident.

Britain’s counterterrorism unit took over the investigation Tuesday. Hundreds of detectives from the counterterrorism team have been working “around the clock” to investigate the incident, according to a police report. Authorities do not believe there is a threat to the wider public, and are asking anyone who was in the area at the time to come forward with information. 

If the Russian government is found responsible, this incident would join a long list of suspected assassinations of Russian dissidents abroad, and specifically in the U.K. Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London in 2006, in an attack that a British government investigation later concluded was “probably approved” by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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