May under pressure over Russian spy

Theresa May is facing mounting pressure to take decisive action against whoever was behind the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter.
Ex-national security advisor Lord Ricketts said “firm action” was needed once responsibility was confirmed.
Asked whether Russia was to blame, President Vladimir Putin told the BBC: “Get to the bottom of things there, then we’ll discuss this.”
Sergei and YuliaSkripal remain in a critical but stable condition.
The 66-year-old retired military intelligence officer and his daughter, 33, were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on 4 March.
Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who fell ill attending the pair, remains seriously ill in hospital but has been talking to his family.
Earlier, Mrs May chaired a National Security Council meeting, held to discuss the latest information with ministers and intelligence and military chiefs.
She is due to update MPs in the Commons on the investigation at about 16:30 GMT.
Foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Tugendhat told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme evidence was mounting against Russia and he “would be surprised if she did not point the finger at the Kremlin”.
Mr Skripal was convicted by the Russian government of passing secrets to MI6 in 2004, but given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a “spy swap”.
Lord Ricketts told Today he had “little doubt that this had come from Russia”.
“The really difficult judgement is who authorised it and why – was it some sort of rogue element or was it centrally authorised? I suppose that does have some impact on the kind of reactions that we need,” he said.
However, Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to President Putin, said: “This incident happened on British soil and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Russian Federation whatsoever, let alone the president.”
India forest fires kill 9 hikers, injure 18 others
Nine trekkers died and 18 others were left with serious burns as wildfires swept through a popular hiking spot in India’s Tamil Nadu state, officials said on Monday.
The group were hiking through Theni district, a hilly region in southern India thickly forested and dotted with tea plantations, when they were forced to flee a fast-approaching fire.
They apparently became separated while trying to find a safe way to escape the oncoming blaze.
“It seems that the victims deviated from the regular trail. This is a popular trekking spot,” Theni district official S. Kandasamy told AFP.
“Nine people lost their lives and 27 others were rescued.”
Of those rescued, 18 were injured, Kandasamy said. Some of the victims were taken to hospital with serious burns over most of their bodies, the Press Trust of India reported.
Kandasamy said the fire is still burning uncontrollably in the region bordering Kerala state some 540km from the Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.
The cause of the blaze is being investigated, he added.
Helicopters from the Indian army have been enlisted to help douse the flames, PTI reported.
Emergency teams had accounted for all those on the hiking expedition, Theni district police superintendent V. Baskaran told AFP.

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