21 people treated after nerve agent attack on former Russian spy

The forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, is repositioned by officials in protective suits in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

As many as 21 individuals have received medical treatment following the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom Sunday.

Most of the affected were given blood tests, support, and advice from hospitals. 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.

The nerve agent attack occurred in Salisbury in south England and specifically targeted Sergei and his daughter, who were both found slumped and unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the city on Sunday afternoon.

The two remain in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital, while authorities say Bailey is making progress toward recovery.

“This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder by administration of a nerve agent,” said Mark Rowley, head of the Metropolitan Police counterterror force.

U.K. authorities have not disclosed who was responsible for the attack but warned of a strong response if the Russian Government is found responsible.

Sergei spent four years in jail in Russia after he was found guilty in 2006 of being a double agent and divulging Russian secrets to MI6, U.K.’s foreign intelligence service. He was released in 2010 and was moved to U.K. as part of a 10-person spy swap.

Nerve agent is very difficult to manufacture and is usually held only by governments in secured military storage. Because of this, the attack on Sergei is being seen as an attack that was likely backed by a foreign government.

“Of course we should exercise caution before jumping to any conclusions but, whoever is responsible — and there are not 101 likely offenders — this is an outrageous affront to our security in Europe and our way of life,” said Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol and a former MI5 analyst.