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'Sonic attack' leads U.S. to expel two Cuban diplomats

'Sonic attack' leads U.S. to expel two Cuban diplomats

Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said it had expelled two Washington-based Cuban diplomats in May after the unspecified "incidents" in Havana.

Cuba has said it is investigating allegations by the U.S. that several diplomats at the USA embassy in Havana developed hearing problems previous year which forced them to return home.

One hypothesis, according to sources who spoke to the BBC, is that the hearing loss could have been caused by a sonic device whose emission of inaudible sound waves could cause deafness if placed outside the diplomats' homes.

"Cuba took this issue with the utmost seriousness and acted expeditiously and professionally in order to clarify the facts of this situation, initiating a comprehensive, priority and urgent investigation on the indications of the highest level of the Cuban government", the ministry said in the statement.

Washington and Havana re-established diplomatic ties in 2015 after a political and economic standoff that lasted five decades. "We take those incidents very seriously, and there is an investigation now under way". "And, as result of that, we have asked two Cubans to leave the United States and they have".

"Some U.S. government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba, on official duty. reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms", Nauert said.

Some staff are said to have had such severe symptoms that they were forced to return to the US.

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According to BBC, it is clear that the two Cuban diplomats left Washington in May.

Cuban officials have denied directing actions against the diplomats and have launched their own investigation into the allegations.

USA officials told The Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children had been involved.

"It can be quite serious", a State Department official said.

"The employees affected were not at the same place at the same time, but suffered a variety of physical symptoms since late 2016, which resembled concussions", CNN reports.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirms that Cuba complies strictly and seriously with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 regarding the protection of the integrity of diplomatic agents and the premises of the mission", the ministry added.

A senior official within the Trump administration later told ABC News, "We really don't know exactly what's causing it", adding that Cuba was being "cooperative" with the investigation. All of facets of the Cuban embargo that had been loosened by Barack Obama, including a ban on tourism, would continue to be enforced, he said.


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