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Russia's foreign minister offers conditional help in poison probe

Russia's foreign minister offers conditional help in poison probe

Britain has vowed to act "without hesitation" if a state is found responsible for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent.

Three people remain hospitalized, however, including the targets of the nerve agent, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, as well as police Sgt. Nick Bailey, the British officer who tried to help them after the attack.

As counter-terrorism police continued to investigate the source of the nerve agent, Home Secretary Amber Rudd visited the city on Friday, including the area around the bench - now covered by a police forensics tent - where Skripal was found.

United Kingdom authorities have identified the police officer who was injured when he came to the aid of a Russian spy and his daughter who were attacked with a deadly, rare nerve agent.

The Kremlin has insisted it is not involved, and said any allegations are a plot to whip up anti-Russian sentiment. The banned VX nerve agent was used to kill the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader past year in Malaysia.

National counterterrorism police have taken over the case, and on Wednesday confirmed that a nerve agent was used, saying they were treating the attack as attempted murder.

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

On Thursday, police revealed 21 people had been treated in public, including emergency service workers and members of the public. Officials did not immediately explain how the others might have been exposed to the substance.

Nerve agents are highly toxic chemicals that resist the functioning of the nervous system and can be fatal.

With police also hurt in the attack, pressure is intensifying on Prime Minister Theresa May to find and punish the culprits.

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Rudd said British authorities "will respond in a robust and appropriate manner once we ascertain who was responsible".

She said the Government is "committed to doing all we can to bring the perpetrators to justice - whoever they are and wherever they may be".

Skripal, shown at a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in Moscow in 2006, and his daughter are now in hospital in Salisbury following the attack.

He was convicted in his home country in 2006 for passing state secrets to MI6.

The incident in Salisbury has drawn comparisons with the 2006 death of former Russian security agent Aleksandr Litvinenko in London.

A public inquiry concluded in 2016 that Mr Litvinenko's killing had "probably" been carried out with the approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hundreds of investigators, led by counter-terror police, are working to find out who is responsible for what is feared to be a sophisticated plot amid heightened tensions between Britain and Russian Federation.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has warned that any involvement of a foreign government in the incident in Salisbury would not go unpunished. He also suggested that Britain could reconsider the participation of its officials in the soccer World Cup in Russian Federation this summer. Because of this, the attack on Sergei is being seen as an attack that was likely backed by a foreign government.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Ethiopia, Lavrov said Russian officials have seen no concrete evidence or "facts" about what happened to Skripal and his daughter.

'Military assistance will continue as necessary during this investigation'.