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US expels 15 officials from Cuba embassy after bizarre health attacks

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-10-2017 Nick Wadhams

Washington: The Trump administration ordered the expulsion of 15 officials from Cuba’s embassy in Washington over the government’s failure to protect 22 US citizens who were subjected to a series of unexplained health attacks in recent months.

The decision is aimed at keeping parity in staffing levels after the US ordered more than half its diplomats and their families to leave the island 29 September following the unexplained incidents, which left staff with hearing loss, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping, a State Department official, who asked not to be identified, briefed reporters.

The US still hasn’t determined what caused the health effects or who is responsible, and the decision to call the incidents deliberate attacks stems from the fact that there was a pattern of people being affected and “there’s no other conclusion we can draw,” said the official. The latest incident occurred in August.

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 US official said. Ties between the US and Cuba were restored under President Barack Obama in 2014 after more than half a century.

“Cuba has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks, and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort,” secretary of state Rex Tillerson said 29 September in announcing the US diplomats were being recalled home.

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

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