Two diplomats were expelled Wednesday from the Cuban embassy after several US envoys in Havana experiences unexplained symptoms and illnesses one official said includes potentially permanent hearing loss.
A new report suggests the Cuban government has been targeting us diplomatic staff in such a way as to cause permanent physical injuries, prompting the Trump administration to expel two diplomats from Washington, D.C., in retaliation.
"We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause", of symptoms she characterized as not life-threatening.
A senior federal law enforcement official tells NBC News that several U.S agencies are investigating allegations that the Cubans directed some kind of ultrasound energy at USA diplomats which left several with damaged hearing.
Several State Department employees working in the building "were subjected to an "acoustic attack" using sonic devices that left at least two with such serious health problems they needed to be brought back to the USA for treatment", CNN reports.
The report comes a day after the United States expelled two Cuban diplomats after a number of U.S. embassy staff were forced to leave Havana because of unspecified medical symptoms that were first reported in 2016.
Some of the USA diplomats' symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said.
U.S. officials, speaking to the agency anonymously, said investigations had determined devices had been deployed either inside or outside diplomats' homes.
The State Department did not answer questions from BuzzFeed News Wednesday, and Nauert did not say during the briefing if shifting policies toward Cuba were a factor in the incidents.
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No children were affected, but at least some of the adults who were are believed to have suffered permanent hearing loss, according to the officials.
The Cuban diplomats were ordered to leave the US on May 23, the officials said.
The Cuban government, Nauert said, has a "responsibility and an obligation under the Geneva Convention to protect our diplomats".
The U.S. first learned of the issues at the embassy in late 2016, she said. It launched an investigation when it became aware of what had happened in February, it added.
"Cuba has never, nor would ever, allow the Cuban territory to be used for any kind of action against accredited diplomats or their families", the ministry said.
Investigators are exploring the possibility that another country, such as Russian Federation, carried out the attack without the Cuban government's knowledge. Nauert would not go into detail about what had occurred, but Federal Bureau of Investigation and Diplomatic Security Service investigators were looking into the matter. "We take those incidents very seriously, and there is an investigation now under way".
"Personal harm to United States officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go and clearly violates worldwide norms".