A POLICE officer has now been confirmed as being seriously ill from the same substance used in what is being treated as the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter and Yulia in Salisbury.
Kier Pritchard, Temporary Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, said in a statement today: “As you are aware, the Counter Terrorism Policing network are leading the investigation concerning a man and a woman who were taken seriously ill in Salisbury on Sunday.
“This has now been declared as a major incident involving attempted murder by the administration of a nerve agent. We continue to support our colleagues from the counter terrorism network as their investigation progresses
“Both people remain in a critical condition and our thoughts are still with their families during this difficult time.
“In addition to this, we can also confirm that a Wiltshire police officer, who was part of the initial response, is also in a serious condition and receiving intensive care. Our thoughts are also with him, his family and friends.
“I recognise colleagues in Wiltshire Police will be deeply affected by this and we will provide support to those affected.
“We are also receiving support from other police forces through the National Police Coordination Centre and I sincerely thank all officers, staff and volunteers for their continued professionalism and hard work in what is a very difficult, fast paced and complex situation.
“A partnership response remains ongoing with Public Health England, the NHS, and Local Authorities both in Swindon and Wiltshire and a range of other key partners.
“We are all aware this latest information update will be of grave concern to the wider public and to emergency responders across the country.
“There will be clear public health advice provided by Public Health England and its of paramount importance that we listen and follow this advice carefully.
“I would also like to reiterate the appeal that was made this morning by the Counter Terrorism Policing Network. In particular, they are keen to speak to anyone who visited Zizzi restaurant on Castle Street and The Bishop’s Mill pub in The Maltings, Salisbury.
“They are appealing for anyone with information about the incident to contact police immediately on 999.
“They would like to hear from anybody who visited the area close to the Maltings shopping centre where these two people were taken ill on Sunday afternoon, and may have seen something that could assist the investigation.
“Cordons remain in place in and around the Salisbury area, and again, I would like to thank the public for respecting these. I also recognise the significant impact upon local businesses and I thank them for their patience and cooperation at this time.
“We will continue to have an increased visible policing presence in and around Salisbury so that we can speak to the public and provide reassurance that we are doing all we can to keep people safe and protect our communities. Thank you.”
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Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, today said government scientists had identified the agent used but would not make that known at this stage.
“This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder, by administration of a nerve agent,” he said.
“I can also confirm that we believe that the two people who became unwell were targeted specifically.”