welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: it's confirmed, a toxic nerve agent was used to poison a former russian spy and his daughter. sergei and yulia skripal and a police officer are still critically ill. police are now treating the attack as attempted murder, but they're not giving any more details of the substance used. president trump pushes ahead with his metal tariff‘s plan, but there could be exemptions for canada and mexico. more than three million people cast their vote, and now counting begins in sierra leone for a new president and parliament. it's now clear, according to british police, that a chemical weapon, a nerve agent, was used in a southern english city at the weekend to poison a former russian spy and his daughter.
sergei and yulia skripal were found unconscious in salisbury on sunday afternoon. they are still critically ill and so is a police officer who was the first at the scene. police are now treating the attack as attempted murder. this from our home affairs correspondent, tom symonds. sergei skripal is a man with a shadowy past. relatives say he feared it would catch up with him, that he would be targeted. but he was using his own name, living a normal life, popping into a corner shop last month for milk and bacon. tonight, he and his daughter remain gravely ill, and this evening, britain's most senior counter—terrorism officer revealed why. in summary, this is being treated as a major incident involved attempting murder by the administration of a nerve agent. as you know, these two people remain critically ill in hospital. sadly, in addition, a police officer who was one of the first to attend the scene and respond to the incident is now also in a serious condition in hospital. it wasn'tjust police officers
and ambulance teams who came into contact with the victims. so did people who just tried to help. could they have been affected? as your chief medical officer, my message to the public is that this event poses a low risk to us, the public, on the evidence that we have. now the focus is on the nearly three hours between sergei and yulia arriving in this area and being taken ill. key locations remain cordoned off, including the zizzi restaurant, where they had lunch around 2pm. an eyewitness who saw them there, and wanted to remain anonymous, told me something appeared to be wrong. what was your view of them? voiceover: initially, i thought he had mental problems. it was out of the blue. there was no one around him. he started screaming at the top of his voice. he didn't look right. he looked like he was going to lose his cool. he and other eyewitnesses say that
yulia skripal had dark hair, as she appeared in this picture. but police have already seized this cctv footage from just before lipm, a man with a blonde—haired woman entering the shopping area. detectives will need to sort through a mass of eyewitness reports and cctv to establish the truth. the government was briefed on the inquiry today. we need to keep a cool head and make sure that we collect all the evidence we can, and we need to make sure that we respond, not to rumour, but to all the evidence that they collect. and then, we will need to decide what action to take. but life in salisbury is now dominated by the response to the suspected poisoning. when a woman was taken ill at an office this lunchtime, this was the emergency services‘ reaction. and this evening, teams in protective suits and respirators were at a nearby ambulance station. someone has used a chemical weapon
among the sunday shoppers of this peaceful city. no—one is taking any chances. tom symonds, bbc news, salisbury. well, as you've been hearing, counter—terrorism officers are not revealing much more at the moment about the substance they've identified, except that it is a " here's our security correspondent, gordon corera. tests have been going on here at porton down, the ministry of defence‘s biological and chemical research establishment. its specialists have been analysing samples brought from salisbury. the tests established that a nerve agent had been used to specifically target two of the victims. so what is a nerve agent? nerve agents were first created in the 1930s for warfare. they are manufactured rather than naturally occurring. they are fast acting and, unless quickly treated, often deadly. and they work by crippling the nervous system. essentially many of the muscles go into spasm, so imagine
that you were just having to hold your breath, and just hold it, keep holding it, keep holding it. and this is one of the effects, and this is why people struggle to breathe. but you also get massive secretion of fluid in the lungs, and people are trying to breathe through that. and the fluid in the lungs is a surfactant, so it's a slightly soapy consistency. so when people are breathing through it you often see them sort of foaming at the mouth. it's not the only time we've seen a nerve agent used to target individuals. a year ago at kuala lumpur airport, two women smeared a nerve agent called vx on the face of the north korean leader's half brother. he was soon dead. that's one method of delivery. a nerve agent can also be inhaled or ingested, but it's not easy to make. nerve agents require not an insignificant financial, logistical and technical back—up to actually be manufactured. and so that would lead to a more likelihood of a state manufacturing it. the police have been careful not
to reveal precisely which nerve agent was used in salisbury. tests can often trace such agents to a specific country or even laboratory of origin. in washington, white house officials are now suggesting some countries could be excluded from president trump's planned tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. but still mr trump is expected to approve them, formally, before the end of this week. he says he wants to pressure china into reducing its trade imbalance with the us by a billion dollars. there are concerns about a global trade war and more than 100 lawmakers from the president's own party have written to him, expressing their alarm. earlier, i got the latest from our correspondent, chris buckler, in washington. we know there are competing visions
in the white house. last week with the announcement, neither he nor us knew the details. and now gary cohn is leaving the white house. those in the white house believe it could hurt the economy. it is a concern among republican leaders. they are talking to president trump and trying to change his mind. as a result, we are seeing a shift in the white house, a softening in the white house, a softening in the white house, a softening in the white house, especially with talk of giving exceptions to mexico and canada are. the eu talked about retaliatory tariffs. they focused on
american products. it could go beyond bourbon and motorcycles, much more than that. they are trying to avoid a tit—for—tat trade war. you talked about republicans inside congress who are deeply concerned. there is a letter which has come to president trump from 100 of those members of congress. they say they are writing to express deep concern about the prospect of broad global ta riffs about the prospect of broad global tariffs on aluminium and steel imports because tariffs make us businesses less competitive and they make us citizens more for. they are speaking out against donald trump because they want to change this policy before it comes into effect. we are also seeing canada and mexico doing what they can in the past few days to change that. they feel this has been eight death forward but they potentially will get exemptions. —— a step forward. this has been done not on the basis of
the economy, but national security, thatis the economy, but national security, that is what donald trump says. he is bringing forward the argument these are industries which will be hurt if america has to defend itself. well, we know that it exists, but not what it says. south korean envoys will bring a private message to the us president from north korean leader kim jong—un when they go to washington later this week. local media say the diplomats were given the message on monday when they met mr kim in rare talks in pyongyang. china's foreign minister, wang yi, has urged north korea and the united states to have talks as soon as possible. he said peace was imperative for the people of the region. translation: of course it takes more than one coat to freeze three feet of ice. the journey ahead will not be smooth. history has told us were never tensions subside on the
peninsula, the situation would be clouded by various interferences. now is the moment to test the sincerity of both parties. peace must be forceful and opportunity seized. all parties need to be imperative with peace and the well—being of people in the region. they have to judiciously carry out all necessary and useful engagements. boat bilateral and practical —— both bilateral and multilateral. china will continue to make unremitting efforts towards this goal. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news. legislators in the us state of florida have given final approval to a gun—control bill that will raise the legal age for buying rifles from 18 to 21.
the bill will also sanction the arming of some school staff. it comes weeks after seventeen people were killed in a shooting in a florida school. jared kushner, a senior white house advisor to donald trump, is set to meet mexico's president enrique pena nieto for talks amid strained relations over trade and mr trump's continued demands that mexico pays for a border wall. the visit by mr trump's son—in—law comes after plans for the mexican leader's first visit to the white house were postponed last month. the former captain of the sri lankan cricket team, kumar sangakkara, has taken to social media to call for an end to days to communal violence. members of the sinhala, buddhist majority have been attacking muslims in the central district of kandy since sunday, when a buddhist man was killed in a dispute with a group of muslims. four people have been seriously hurt in two knife attacks in the austrian capital vienna. police say it is not clear what the motives were or if
there's any connection between the two assaults. an afghan man has been arrested. bethany bell reports from vienna. a police spokesman told the bbc that a man attacked a family of three, a mother, father, and their grown—up daughter. the victims, all austrian citizens, were taken to hospital with life—threatening injuries. the attacker fled the scene in vienna's second district, near the famous prater park, and close to an area that houses much of vienna'sjewish community. later, another man from chechnya was stabbed near prater park. police arrested an afghan citizen in connection with the second attack. translation: we know at 7.45 there was a stabbing at the bar behind me. an unknown man attacked a family. all three were heavily injured. shortly after, another attack happened near the praterstern. here, a person was also attacked with a knife, and has critical injuries. the police spokesman says it was not clear if the suspect was involved
in the first incident as well. he wouldn't comment on possible motives. bethany bell, bbc news, vienna. counting has begun in sierra leone where voters are choosing a new president and parliament. the current president ernest bai koroma is standing down, after serving two terms. there are 16 candidates to replace him, many promising to tackle endemic corruption and poverty. lebo diseko reports. the votes have been cast, ballot boxes sealed, and counting is underway in sierra leone's general election. there was some tension as polls closed, with reports of a scuffle between police and the opposition candidate julius maada bio, over claims of vote—rigging. but overall, assessments have been fairly positive. we have about 60 observers around the country.
what they are seeing is also encouraging. this is not to say we don't expect a bump or two here and there along the way, but, thus far, things are encouraging. the country is still struggling after the devastating bowler crisis and rebuilding the health system is just one of the key election issues. the economy is another, after the collapse in the price of iron ore, a key export. but expectation is high. good healthcare, education, social services, electricity, uh, clean water. these are our priorities. if god chooses a next leader, i expect so much from him. results are expected within a week, and if none of the 16 candidates gets 55% of the vote or more, the top two will go to a run—off in march. whoever wins, there is a long road ahead to get this country back on its feet. lebo diseko, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news.
still to come: forget darts. the latest sporting trend is axe throwing. just how hard can it be? the numbers of dead and wounded defied belief. this the worst terrorist atrocity on european soil in modern times. in less than 2a hours then the soviet union lost an elderly sick leader and replaced him with a dynamic figure 20 years his junior. we heard these gunshots in the gym. then he came out through a fire exit and started firing at our huts. god, we were all petrified. james earl ray, aged 41, sentenced to 99 years and due for parole when he's 90, travelled from memphis jail
to nashville state prison in an eight—car convoy. paul, what's it feel like to be married at last? it feels fine, thank you. what are you going to do now? is it going to change your life much do you think? i don't know really. i've never been married before. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: a nerve agent was used to try to murder a former russian spy and his daughter. sergei and yulia skripal remain critically ill in a uk hospital. the white house says some countries could be excluded from president trump's planned tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, including canada and mexico. the trial for the murder of the swedish journalist, kim wall, whose dismembered body was found on a beach and off the coast
of denmark last year, starts later on thursday. she was last seen embarking on a trip off the copenhagen coast in a homemade submarine built by danish inventor peter madsen in august 2017. mr madsen, a submarine enthusiast and rocket builder, is charged with her murder. maddy savage has the details from copenhagen. denmark, one of the world's safest countries, has been shocked by the killing of a swedish reporter. the suspect‘s trial is taking place here in copenhagen. it was a warm summer's evening when the journalist, kim wall, boardered a submarine built by peter madsen, a danish inventor based in the city. she never came home. a day later, madsen was rescued from the submarine, saying it had sunk. he claimed he dropped kim off safely. police did not believe him. detectives worked around the clock searching for the missing journalist, but she was nowhere to be found. ten days later, a cyclist discovered the remains of her dismembered torso, on a nearby beach. in october, divers found
other parts of her body, weighed down with metal. peter madsen eventually admitted that kim did die on board his submarine but his story continued to change. first he said she was hit on the head by a hatch, then he said that she suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. he has admitted cutting up her body but denies killing her. peter madsen has been kept in custody here, in the danish capital, ahead of the trial. he faces charges including murder, dismembering a body and sexual relations of a particularly dangerous nature. if he is found guilty he is likely to get a life sentence or be sent to a secure mental health hospital. maddy savage reporting there from copenhagen. crown prince mohammed bin—salman of saudi arabia has started a 3—day visit to britain, by having lunch with the queen, and holding talks with the prime minister in downing street, mainly about trade and security.
but the visit is not appropriate, according to human rights campaigners, who point to saudi arabia's role in the conflict in yemen, where the un says there's a humanitarian crisis. our security correspondent frank gardner has more details. a downing street welcome for the man who is shaking up saudi arabia with radical reforms. crown prince mohammed bin salman and his delegation have come to britain looking for new deals and new partnerships. this meeting concluded with an agreed target of £65 billion of future trade deals, spread across education, healthcare, energy and defence. today, the crown prince was given an audience and lunch with the queen. tonight he is dining with prince charles and prince william. the lunch that crown prince mohammed bin salman had with the queen is a mark ofjust how highly the government values its relations with saudi arabia. he's not a head of state and four years ago almost no—one had heard of him. not everyone in britain though welcomes this visit. a small, but noisy
demonstration outside downing street, protesting saudi arabia's air strikes on yemen and its poor human rights record. britain is a major supplier of arms to saudi arabia, contracts are worth billions of pounds and employ thousands of britons. in neighbouring yemen, saudi—led air strikes on houthi rebels are blamed for the majority of civilian casualties. in parliament today a question over whether saudi arabia is a suitable ally. there has been a sharp increase in the arrest and detention of dissidents, torture of prisoners is common, human rights defenders routinely sentenced to lengthy prison terms. but the government places huge value on saudi co—operation in counter terrorism. the link we have with saudi arabia is historic it, it is a an important one and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country. crown prince mohammed is pushing a sweeping economic and social reform
programme, reintroducing cinemas and public entertainment. he's also given saudi women much more freedom to enjoy public life. from june they can drive. we spoke to a prominent women's rights campaigner. when it comes to human rights i think there's no reform yet. i think everything is going to happen because people nowadays are like, you know, 70% of the population are youth, youngsters, and they all want change. the saudi crown prince is no democrat. he locked up citizens in this hotel until they handed over their assets. young saudis admire him. if he can deliver on his economic promises, with britain's help, he will go down in history as the man who modernised saudi arabia. frank gardner, bbc news. two people are missing and six
injured in a fire at a building site in colorado. passers—by filmed the blaze that swept through the apartment block which is under construction in denver. six buildings were caught up in the fire with at least the cause isn't yet unknown. now, there's a new trend trying to find its mark in washington and in other cities across the us. axe—throwing is catching on among those who are looking for a new hobby — and who might find bowling or pool a bit too tame. our correspondent jane o'brien went to have a throw or two. you have had a bad day at work or maybe you have fallen out with your partner or perhaps you burnt the cakes — i don't know — but what better way ease the tension and get rid of some of that pent—up aggression than lob an axe at the wall. it's not like the normal thing to do. ok, let's go and do something that i can end of my life with today so when it comes to this,
everybody can just kind of calm, experience something new, it'sa bonding experience, and it is a lot of fun. now, step with your right foot. give it a good go. just like, take it up... step... well, i hit the target. you did hit the target. that's a start. it is really not that dangerous, as long as you do not throw like a crazy person and just try to have is some fun. axe throwing is becoming alarmingly popular in the us, having make its way across the borderfrom canada. there is even an axe throwing league. that is quite a medal you've got there. how did you win it? i won this by throwing large axes at wood on a wall. so how did you do it, because i'm hopeless. what is it your top tip for me? i go with the 2—handed stout, overhand, no wrist action. that is a common misconception. no wrist involved in it. cheering. how does this make you feel? it makes me feel lack a man with big, hairy chest. clearly, my technique
needs a little polish. so after half a dozen throws, and i promise i will not do anything bad with this, i am exhausted, the axe is getting blunt and i still have not hit the target but it is great fun and i am so glad i've had a bad day at work! and so the night wore on. oh, come on! once you have mastered the basics, there is no limit to what you can do with an axe. and then there is that golden moment when it all comes together. jane o'brien, bbc news, axe throwing queen of washington! let's leave you with these incredible pictures from a volcano,
mount shinmoedake, in southern japan. a series of powerful eruptions has created a huge plume, which is now 3,000 metres high — that's the highest recorded since april in 2011. authorities are warning people not to approach the area. the volcano, which featured in the 1967 james bond film, you only live twice, has been grumbling since thursday. japan, with scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so—called pacific ring of fire, where a large proportion of the world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded. more on the website. thank you for watching. hello. temperatures are on the up this weekend as it turns milder but we are not there yet
and snow is still part of our forecast for the first part of thursday. here's a look at the recent satellite picture. this area of cloud pushing in from the south—west, bringing in some rain, sleet and some snow to parts of england and wales as thursday begins. a fairly messy looking picture, by no means everyone seeing snow. you're more inclined in the higher ground of wales, midlands, into parts of northern england but, in heavier bursts, even to lower levels, you could see a bit of snow. maybe a few centimetres, a brief, light covering out of this. here is how things look during the first few hours of the morning. behind the area of rain, sleet and snow, further wintry showers coming into parts of wales. it is a good idea to just check the situation before heading out, to make sure you do not going to encounter too many problems. bbc local radio station, of course, a good source of information.
this latest weather system begins to pull its moisture away, eastwards, from england and wales as we go into the afternoon. for scotland and northern ireland, a mainly dry but frosty icy start to the day. good sunny spells to come as it stays mainly dry. in towards the western isles, far north—west of mainland scotland, northern isles there'll be some showers around. following our weather system for england and wales, one or two showers, wintry on hills but some good sunny spells to come here. most places, a chillier day, especially in the breeze, across southern parts, with temperatures in single figures. fine thursday night as we see a frost settling. chance for a few icy patches. some wintry showers, some snow across parts of scotland, particularly into the hills. fine weather to come during friday but cloud increasing to southern england and south wales as we get some outbreaks of rain moving in through the afternoon and the evening. it turns wetter from the south. as we look at that big picture into the weekend, there's this weather system here, still as it edges its way northwards, on it leading edge, there could be some snow, especially to higher ground. but this is a warm front, the leading edge of milder air, warmerairand you can
see that on the colours here, for saturday. that gradually edges its way further northwards as we go through the weekend. so we know the weekend, temperatures are heading up. not the whole story. it's going to be milder, yes, but there will be some rain at times and most of us will see some rain at some stage of the weekend, thankfully not all the time but here's an idea of what we might expect over the weekend, at least for the capital cities. and that gives you an idea of what many of us can expect. some rain at times, not all the time but temperatures are creeping up. that is your weekend forecast. this is bbc news. the headlines: british anti—terror police say a nerve agent was used to try to murder a former russian spy and his daughter. sergei and yulia skripal have been critically ill in hospital, along with the first police officer on the scene, since they were found slumped unconscious on a bench on sunday. russia has denied involvement. the white house says some countries could be excluded from president trump's planned tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. the proposed measures have led to concerns about a potential trade war, but the president is expected to go ahead with formally approving
them before the end of the week. counting is under way in sierra leone after more than three million people voted for a new president and parliament. president ernest bai koroma is standing down after serving two five—year terms. a run—off vote will take place if no presidential candidate wins 55% of the ballot. now on bbc news: click.