U.S. to keep staff permanently thin at Cuban embassy over sonic attacks

The U.S. flag flaps in the stiff breeze off the Florida Straits at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, on March 22, 2016. The State Department on Friday announced that the embassy would only include essential staff going forward. File Photo by U.S. Department of State/UPI

March 3 (UPI) — The U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, will permanently have a scaled-down staff, the State Department announced Friday.

The decision came more than six months after U.S. officials first divulged that more than a dozen embassy employees there were victims of alleged sonic attacks. In late September, the State Department temporarily removed all non-essential personnel from the embassy.

Starting Monday, the embassy will continue to operate with a similar emergency staffing level, the State Department said in a release Friday. The embassy’s only remaining staffers will be there to “perform core diplomatic and consular functions,” the department said.

The State Department has not indicated who carried out the attacks, but the Trump administration has expelled more than a dozen Cuban diplomats over the incidents.

“We still do not have definitive answers on the source or cause of the attacks, and an investigation into the attacks is ongoing,” the State Department said Friday.

The State Department said in late January that 19 Americans who traveled to Cuba reported suffering symptoms — including hearing loss, dizziness, fatigue and headaches — consistent with the alleged sonic attacks at the embassy.

An assistant secretary of state said early this year that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson planned to investigate the sonic attacks.


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