USA investigates after 16 Americans suffer hearing loss in Cuba

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The two-year-old US diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what USA officials say was a string of freakish incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device. In a statement to CBS, an agency spokesperson said State was in "regular contact" with Cuba to "resolve this matter in a satisfactory manner". At least 16 Americans associated with the U.S. Embassy in Havana suffered symptoms from attacks on their health in Cuba that have still not been explained, the United States said Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Additional diplomats opted to leave their assignments in Cuba early, as a result of the harassment, the two United States government officials told CNN. After months of investigation, USA officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences.

Several of the diplomats targeted in those odd sonic weapon attacks in Cuba have suffered from permanent brain damage, according to medical records obtained by CBS News.

Cuba has denied any responsibility and is cooperating with US and Canadian investigators, she said.

The department would not confirm if a medical officer is based at Cuban embassy, but said that some diplomats have been medically evacuated to Miami.

Cuban authorities, in response to the dismissals, denied any wrongdoing, asserting further that an "exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation" had been launched "at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government".

Canada has revealed that at least one of its officials in Havana has also been treated for hearing loss.

State department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it is possible there are more. Officials are reportedly investigating whether the symptoms were caused by sonic attacks.

Investigators searched diplomats' homes but did not find any devices capable of carrying out the acoustic attacks and are still puzzled by the source of the disturbances, USA officials said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cited the "health attacks" on diplomats but has not provided details.

"We requested their departure as a reciprocal measure since some USA personnel's assignments in Havana had to be curtailed due to these incidents", she said.

In May, the USA expelled two Cuban diplomats after reminding the country of its global obligations to protect diplomats under the Vienna convention.

Trump then imposed several restrictions on travel to Cuba, but left the newly-established embassies in Washington and Havana open "in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path", he said in June, adding that he will "expose the crimes of the Castro regime". The residences were provided by the Cuban government.

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