Amesbury pair could've been poisoned with SAME nerve agent used on Skripals – as terror cops brought in

The man and woman, both in their 40s, are being treated at Salisbury Hospital after they were found unconscious at a property in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday evening.

Defence sources say the couple were poisoned and samples have been sent to the Porton Down research facility for urgent testing, The Sun can reveal.

Security chiefs fear the couple could have been infected with the same batch of nerve agent used in an assassination attempt on MI6 agent Sergei Skripal.

What we know so far

  • Wiltshire Police found a man and a woman, both in their 40s, unconscious at a property on Muggleton Road, Amesbury on Saturday evening
  • Both are fighting for their lives at Salisbury District Hospital and are receiving treatment for exposure to an unknown substance
  • Police have cordoned off a number of locations, including – Muggleton Road, Amesbury; Amesbury Baptist Centre church and Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury
  • Samples have been sent to the Porton Down research facility as security chiefs fear the couple could have been infected with the same batch of nerve agent used on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal
  • Wiltshire Police declared a major incident and counter-terror police have now joined the investigation
  • Around 200 people attended a fun day at the church along with the couple on Saturday afternoon but no-one has reported any ill effects

Doctors have determined the pair have been poisoned by toxins and are showing very similar  symptoms to the former Russian military intelligence colonel and his daughter Julia.

The local duo – believed to be recreational drug users – are not known to have any connections with Russia or the security services.

Security chiefs are investigating whether they may have come across a previously undiscovered sample of Novichock nerve agent used by state assassins.

Counter-terror police are now investigating and a number of areas where the pair visited in recent days have been cordoned off, including parts of Salisbury – where the Skripals were poisoned with a nerve agent in March.

Police say they initially believed the pair had taken heroin or crack cocaine from a contaminated batch of drugs when they were called to an address in Muggleton Road.

A number of locations including Amesbury Baptist Centre and a park in Salisbury have been cordoned off by police. Government ministers are being kept up to date about the incident.

Around 200 people are thought to have attended a fun day at the church along with the couple on Saturday afternoon but no-one has reported ill effects.

Roy Collins, church secretary, said: "We are praying for the couple, one of our members knows them and clearly there are concerns for them and any others in the community. They are not church members or regulars."

Neighbours described seeing emergency crews arrive at the scene in "green suits" on Saturday night.

Chloe Edwards, 17, said: "We saw everything. They were putting on these green suits and we thought it was the gas as our electricity was turned off as well."

The incident comes after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were left poisoned by a suspected military nerve agent in Salisbury, which is around eight miles from Amesbury.

Mr Skripal, 67, and his daughter, 33, were left in a critical condition after they were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury city centre on March 4.

They spent weeks in Salisbury District Hospital where they underwent treatment for suspected exposure to the Russian-created nerve agent Novichok.

The British Government has accused Russia of being behind the attack on Mr Skripal, who settled in the UK after a spy swap.

Residents living on Muggleton Road were evacuated on Saturday evening but allowed to return to their homes a few hours later.

Shannon Allen told how her mum moved to the new-build estate on Saturday. She said: "She had just finished moving the last of her stuff when they were evacuated.

"She had just sat down to have some dinner and they were evacuated from the area. They were let back into their home at around 11pm."

A Scotland Yard spokeman said: "As you would expect, given the recent events in Salisbury, officers from the counter terrorism network are working jointly with colleagues from Wiltshire Police regarding the incident in Amesbury.

"As Wiltshire Police have stated, they are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances surrounding the incident and will update the public as soon and as regularly as possible."

Scotland Yard believes a two-man hit team led the Salisbury nerve agent attack in March.

The pair are thought to have left the UK the next morning after carrying out the attempted assassination on behalf of the Kremlin.

The inquiry is thought to be focusing on at least two key "persons of interest" – almost certainly with close ties to Russia.

But both are believed to have fled the UK within 24 hours of the bungled assassination on March 4.

They are now thought to be back in Russia and under the protection of President Vladimir Putin. Met anti-terror cops and spooks have spent weeks hunting the hitmen who targeted ex-Russian double agent Skripal and his daughter Yulia with deadly Novichok nerve agent.

A total of nine sites were left contaminated in the attack.

Salisbury District Hospital is open as usual people are advised to attend routine appointments unless they are contacted to state otherwise.

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said: "The current advice from PHE England, based upon the number of casualties affected, is that it is not believed that there is a significant health risk to the wider public.

"This will be continually assessed as further information becomes known".

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