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sonic attacks

America pulls more than half its embassy staff from Cuba in response to ongoing sonic attacks

In response to the mysterious, ongoing sonic attacks on American diplomats in Cuba, the United States is pulling approximately 60 percent of its staff off the island and ceasing visa processing indefinitely, people familiar with the decisions told The Associated Press. American citizens have also been urged against visiting the nation.

The futuristic attacks began last fall when U.S. diplomats mysteriously started to lose their hearing. The U.S. launched an investigation and determined that the diplomats had been attacked by a weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and was covertly placed either inside or outside their homes. At least 21 people have been injured with symptoms including "mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss, loss of balance, severe headaches, and brain swelling," The New York Times reports.

Cuban President Raul Castro has appeared to be as bewildered by the attacks as Americans, and even went as far as to invite FBI agents to his country to investigate. Some suspect a third country, such as Russia, could be to blame. Curiously, "the FBI had visited the homes of diplomats in Cuba and had not been able to detect anything," the Times adds. "The FBI has also reviewed security footage of the homes and found nothing suspicious. The FBI has been unable to duplicate the effects the diplomats have experienced in a lab."

A new travel warning issued Friday said that some of the attacks have taken place at hotels and that tourists could be exposed during trips to Cuba. The United States will also stop sending delegations to Havana, although diplomatic talks and meetings will continue in Washington. Cubans looking to obtain U.S. visas "may be able to apply through embassies in nearby countries," AP writes.

The decisions reported Friday avoid a full embassy shutdown, which was one option reportedly considered by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump during discussions.