Sergei Skripal Russian Spy Salisbury Police
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Salisbury Attack: Home Secretary To Chair Emergency Cobra Meeting

Amber Rudd will chair the meeting at 3pm on Saturday to receive updates on the police case, Downing Street said.

Sergei Skripal Russian Spy Salisbury Police

Cover: Police outside the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury near to where Sergei Skripal was found critically ill by exposure to an unknown substance. (Picture: PA)

Investigators have been summoned for emergency talks on the crisis in Salisbury, where the fallout from a suspected nerve agent attack continues to widen.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd will chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra committee at 3pm on Saturday to receive updates on the police case, Downing Street said.

Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still fighting for their lives after being exposed to a toxic substance in the Wiltshire city last Sunday.

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was part of the initial response by authorities, is also in a serious condition.

Around 180 troops, including Royal Marines, RAF Regiment troops and chemical warfare specialists, are understood to have been deployed in the city on Friday after Scotland Yard requested specialist help.

Members of the Falcon Squadron, Royal Tank Regiment prepare to support civilian authorities in Salisbury. (Picture: MoD)

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said armed forces personnel will return to Salisbury in similar numbers on Saturday as the probe and cleanup operation continues.

Police turned their attention on Friday to the cemetery where the 66-year-old Russian's wife and son were laid to rest.

Officers in hazmat suits were seen placing a blue forensic tent over his son's memorial stone before appearing to stuff items in several yellow barrels.

The grave of Mr Skripal's wife Liudmila, who was buried in 2012, and the memorial stone of his son Alexander, who was cremated last year, were cordoned off at the London Road cemetery.

Apparent fears of chemical contamination have also seen Mr Skripal's home cordoned off while detectives attempt to pin down the origins of the substance used to incapacitate him.

A short distance away, a convoy of military vehicles rolled into the car park at Salisbury District Hospital to recover a police car.

Mr Skripal and Yulia, 33, are still in a "very serious" condition five days after they were discovered slumped on a bench in the city centre.

Suspicion is mounting that Russia carried out the attempt on their lives as an act of revenge against the former intelligence officer, who was convicted in 2006 of selling state secrets to MI6.

He was later released as part of a spy swap with the US.

The Kremlin denies responsibility and British ministers have urged caution over apportioning blame until the facts become clear.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood told the Press Association that the military's presence reflected the "seriousness" of the situation, adding:

"We mustn't get ahead of ourselves but we must have a robust response and it's something that we'll be discussing with our NATO partners and with the forthcoming summit in Brussels in July.

"Some big questions arise as to how do you stand up to a clandestine and sinister attack deliberately done to play havoc in our society?"

Police said 21 people had been seen for medical treatment since the incident.

The figure includes members of the public and emergency staff, some of whom have had blood tests as well as receiving support and advice.

The attack is being treated as attempted murder.

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