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sonic attacks

America is expelling two-thirds of Cuba's diplomatic staff from D.C. over mysterious sonic attacks

The United States has ordered two-thirds of Cuba's diplomatic staff in Washington, D.C., to return to their country in response to mysterious, ongoing sonic attacks on American personnel in Havana, The New York Times reports.

The U.S. pulled 60 percent of its diplomatic staff from the Cuba embassy last month over the futuristic attacks, which began last fall when American 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 intelligence officials especially targeted. Symptoms include "mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss, loss of balance, severe headaches, and brain swelling," The New York Times reports.

Although a third country — perhaps North Korea or Russia — is potentially behind the attacks, a State Department official told The New York Times that the Cuban staff would not be allowed to return to the Washington embassy until it became clear the sonic attacks would not continue. The 15 diplomats to be expelled from Washington have a week to return to Cuba.

"This order will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday, adding that "we continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and will continue to cooperate with Cuba as we pursue the investigation into these attacks."