The growing crisis in North Korea may be dominating the news, but another communist nation may have just attacked American diplomats.
A strange but alarming report from BBC News indicates that Cuba may have covertly harmed American embassy officials in Havana.
Several U.S. diplomats have been forced to leave the island country after their residences in Cuba were allegedly targeted by sonic devices which cause serious and possibly permanent hearing loss.
It sounds like a plot element from a Cold War thriller novel, but two major news sources — BBC and the Associated Press — are standing by the story.
“Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States,” reported the AP.
“After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose,” continued the report.
The U.S. government is also taking the possible covert attack seriously. In response to the incident, two Cuban diplomats have been expelled from Washington, D.C.
“We requested their departure as a reciprocal measure since some U.S. personnel’s assignments in Havana had to be curtailed due to these incidents,” explained Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the State Department. “Under the Vienna Convention, Cuba has an obligation to take measures to protect diplomats.”
Officials also increased security around the embassy in Havana, as well as the residences where American officials and their families live.
If the reports of a covert attack are accurate, the incident could mean a serious blow to budding relations between the United States and the communist island.
Diplomatic connections between the two countries were only recently restored by Barack Obama, after decades of an embargo against the Castro regime.
The alleged assault could prove critics of normalized relations to be right: The Cuban government is no friend of the United States, and pretending otherwise could have serious consequences.
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