US tells tourists to avoid Cuba fol­low­ing ‘sonic at­tacks’

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Tom Leonard

THE US warned Amer­i­cans not to visit Cuba yes­ter­day as it dra­mat­i­cally stepped up its re­sponse to a mys­te­ri­ous al­leged sonic at­tack on its diplomats there.

Washington or­dered more than half of US per­son­nel on the is­land to leave fol­low­ing what it is now de­scrib­ing as ‘spe­cific at­tacks’ on diplomats.

At least 21 US diplomats based in Ha­vana, as well as oth­ers from Canada, have re­ported symp­toms rang­ing from nau­sea and nose bleeds to con­cus­sion, mem­ory loss and per­ma­nent dam­aged hear­ing.

Many say the symp­toms oc­curred af­ter they heard un­pleas­ant ring­ing, screech­ing or scrap­ing noises that ap­peared to have been tar­geted specif­i­cally at them.

Al­most a year af­ter diplomats be­gan de­scrib­ing the un­ex­plained health prob­lems, US in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­main flum­moxed. Al­though the US State Depart­ment pre­vi­ously called them ‘in­ci­dents’, of­fi­cials said it was now con­vinced they were tar­geted at­tacks on Amer­i­can diplomats.

In a new travel warn­ing yes­ter­day, US of­fi­cials warned Amer­i­can tourists that some of the at­tacks had oc­curred in a ho­tel pop­u­lar with for­eign vis­i­tors, so they may be vul­ner­a­ble.

The US em­bassy in Ha­vana will lose roughly 60% of its staff and will stop pro­cess­ing travel visas in­def­i­nitely.

The move deals a ma­jor blow to the his­toric re­sump­tion of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween the two for­mer Cold War foes un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The Cuban gov­ern­ment, now run by Fidel Castro’s brother, Raoul, has de­nied all re­spon­si­bil­ity for the in­juries.

The con­tro­versy has puz­zled sci­en­tists and se­cu­rity an­a­lysts. While it is pos­si­ble to cre­ate high fre­quency ul­tra­sound waves that can cause hear­ing loss and some of the other re­ported symp­toms, it is very dif­fi­cult to tar­get the at­tack pre­cisely. Most in­ci­dents hap­pened in diplomats’ homes but two were stay­ing at the Ho­tel Capri in Ha­vana when tar­geted.

The US has al­ready ex­pelled two Cuban diplomats over the is­sue but of­fi­cials said it was con­sid­er­ing de­mands by some sen­a­tors that it throws out all of them.

Washington has not yet specif­i­cally blamed the Cuban regime.

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