Bizarre attacks in Havana hit US spy network in Cuba

US Embassy in Havana Cuba

The U.S. Department of State ordered 15 Cuban officials from the embassy in Washington, D.C., to leave the country.

The State Department is expelling 15 Cuban diplomats after slashing the USA mission in Cuba last week in response to months of unexplained injuries to American personnel.

The attacks, which United States officials initially suggested could have come from some sort of covert acoustic device, have affected at least 22 United States embassy staff in Havana over the past few months.

But he said his decision to withdraw 60 percent of USA diplomats from the embassy in Havana will remain in effect until Cuba can ensure that American diplomats there are safe.

The Trump administration imposed last week's and today's reprisals despite the U.S. State Department's admitting investigators have not been able to determine who is responsible or what caused the alleged health events, which Washington describes as "attacks" without any conclusions about it.

According to Tillerson, until the Government of Cuba ensured the safety of USA diplomats in Cuba, the embassy would be reduced to emergency personnel to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm.

Symptoms of these mysterious attacks have included hearing loss, dizziness and cognitive issues.

Some of the Cuban officials being asked to leave are known Cuban intelligence operatives who are based in both Washington and New York, CBS News reported.

Cuba is still investigating the cause of the health effects and the decision to expel some of their officials isn't a finding of guilt or a change in policy, the U.S. official said.

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Cuba has denied involvement in the attacks.

But, the official said, Cuba must be held accountable for protecting American diplomats.

The Cuban diplomats, who were given seven days to depart, were not declared persona non grata, a USA official speaking on condition of anonymity said. I have called on the State Department to conduct an independent investigation and submit a comprehensive report to Congress, and I look forward to reviewing it.

Last week, the State Department removed most of its staff from the US embassy in Havana, unable to guarantee residents' safety.

Though Havana is likely to view the move as unwarranted retaliation, United States officials said the goal wasn't to punish the communist-run island, but to ensure both countries have a similar number of diplomats in each other's capitals. This order will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations.

In 2015 President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored diplomatic ties, ordered embassies reopened and eased travel and commerce restrictions.

Cuba has a week to recall its staff, the official said.

Trump has reversed some changes but has broadly left the rapprochement in place. The most recent incident occurred in late August, but some victims are still being diagnosed.

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