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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

US to withdraw 60 per cent of embassy staff from Havana over sonic attacks

Cuba is investigating reports by diplomats of health problems caused by sonic attacks

The US is withdrawing non-essential staff from its embassy in Havana, Cuba. Alexandre Meneghini/ Reuters
The US is withdrawing non-essential staff from its embassy in Havana, Cuba. Alexandre Meneghini/ Reuters

The United States will withdraw 60 per cent of its staff from the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, following reports of sonic attacks on diplomats.

Officials said 21 US diplomats and their family members had reported having health problems, including hearing loss, dizziness and nausea, the cause of which is unknown.

The Associated Press, citing senior officials, said that the embassy will issue a new travel warning and stop processing visas because some of the attacks happened in Cuban hotels.

The Cuban authorities are investigating the reports and has denied it has played any role in the unexplained incidents. It says it has so far been unable to determine the cause.

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Read more:

FBI flies in to Cuba to probe sonic weapon claims

‘Acoustic attack’ targeted at least 16 US embassy staff in Cuba

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There is no suggestion from Washington that Cuba is involved, however, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has said that Cuba has a responsibility to protect foreign diplomats working in Havana.

The US Embassy in Havana reopened in 2015 under the Barack Obama administration following the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

However, current US president Donald Trump, who has announced a partial roll-back of his predecessor’s policies, said he would shut the embassy again if necessary.