CUBA SONIC MYS­TERY DEEP­ENS AF­TER FRUITLESS PROBES

Daily Nation Newspaper - - AFRICAN NEWS -

HA­VANA - Months of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into so-called "sonic at­tacks" on Amer­i­can diplo­mats in Cuba, which have soured Wash­ing­ton-Ha­vana re­la­tions for most of the past year, have turned up noth­ing.

Cuba said last week it found no ev­i­dence to sup­port US claims that sev­eral Amer­i­can diplo­mats in Ha­vana were harmed in what US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son called sur­rep­ti­tious "health at­tacks."

In a saga seem­ingly ripped from the pages of a Cold War spy novel, at least 21 US of­fi­cials and a smaller num­ber of Cana­di­ans have re­ceived treat­ment for a va­ri­ety of symp­toms in­clud­ing brain trauma and hear­ing loss.

Ques­tions linger over whether they are the re­sult of tar­geted at­tacks, sab­o­tage, or an ac­ci­dent.

Sus­pi­cions were first aroused in late 2016, but Wash­ing­ton waited un­til Au­gust 2017 to an­nounce that sev­eral of its em­bassy em­ploy­ees had fallen vic­tim to mys­tery health prob­lems that re­main un­ex­plained.

US of­fi­cials have told re­porters they be­lieve some kind of in­audi­ble sound weapon was used on its staff ei­ther in­side or out­side their res­i­dences in Ha­vana.

The labour union rep­re­sent­ing US diplo­mats said their di­ag­noses of those treated in­cluded mild trau­matic brain in­jury and per­ma­nent hear­ing loss.

On Septem­ber 14, the num­ber of em­ploy­ees af­fected was 21, with the lat­est in­ci­dent be­ing re­ported last month, US of­fi­cials said, adding that mon­i­tor­ing of their staff in Ha­vana was on­go­ing.

A source close to the Cana­dian em­bassy told AFP that more than five fam­i­lies had been af­fected, in­clud­ing sev­eral chil­dren, but that none of those cases ap­peared to be se­ri­ous.

Ha­vana mean­while said that it had taken ad­di­tional mea­sures to pro­tect Amer­i­can diplo­mats and their fam­i­lies.

"The is­sue is that there are peo­ple who are not do­ing well," the source said.

"And we still do not know why."

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