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US intelligence agencies reportedly suspect Russia behind mysterious attacks on US personnel in Cuba

U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that Russia was behind mysterious attacks on U.S. personnel in both Cuba and China. At least 26 government workers were affected by the attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Here is a view of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Dec.r 17, 2015. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that Russia is likely behind the mysterious attacks on U.S. personnel in both Cuba and China, according to five sources who spoke with NBC News.

What attacks?

In November 2016, Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba began complaining about health problems, including hearing loss, brain injuries, and problems with balance and vision. The latest reported incident occurred in May.

The U.S. later determined that the victims had been targeted by some sort of a weapon, possibly one using acoustic, microwave, or electromagnetic technology. While the culprits behind the attacks have not yet been definitively identified, the U.S. blamed the Cuban government for not adequately protecting U.S. personnel on Cuban soil. At least 26 government workers were affected by the attacks.

After this incident, the Trump administration recalled most of the U.S. diplomats from the island. The U.S. Embassy in Cuba had only been opened since 2015, during President Barack Obama's attempts to thaw relations between the two nations.

Earlier this year, an American at the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, described similar symptoms.

Last week, State Department officials testified before Congress that "the State Department has come to the determination that they were attacks" and not the result of some accidental interference.

Another U.S. official anonymously told NBC News that the U.S. had "no reason to believe this was anything but an intentional act."

What's new?

NBC News reported on Tuesday that three U.S. officials and two others "briefed on the investigation" confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that Russia was likely behind the attacks in Cuba. This suspicion is based on evidence including communications intercepts. Russia also has developed microwave technology capable of carrying out an attack producing similar results. However, the investigation has not yet concluded.

Russian intelligence has a significant presence in Cuba. The two nations have been longtime allies, particularly during the Cold War.

NBC News was not able to conclusively say whether or not Russia was also suspected in the attack in China.

The FBI, CIA, and other U.S. agencies are involved in this investigation.

The State Department refused to officially assign blame for the attack. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement to NBC:

The investigation is ongoing. We have made no determination on who or what is responsible for the health attacks.
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