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Colombia to Leave 'Havana Syndrome' Embassy Probe to US After 5 Families Show Symptoms

Handout picture released by the Colombian presidency press office of Colombian President Ivan Duque delivering a speech at the United States' Chamber of Commerce in Washington on October 11, 2021, during a three-day official visit to the United States. (AFP)

Handout picture released by the Colombian presidency press office of Colombian President Ivan Duque delivering a speech at the United States' Chamber of Commerce in Washington on October 11, 2021, during a three-day official visit to the United States. (AFP)

The cause of the illnesses has not been fully diagnosed and the identity of the attacker, if there is one, has not been revealed.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said Tuesday that his government is aware of cases of so-called “Havana Syndrome" at the US Embassy in Bogota, but is leaving the investigation to Washington.

At least five US families associated with the embassy in Colombia have come down with symptoms associated with the mysterious affliction, which include headaches, nausea and possible brain damage, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Of course we have knowledge of this situation but I want to leave it to the US authorities, who are doing their own investigation because it is about their own personnel," Duque told reporters in New York during an official US visit in which he has also visited Washington.

The Colombia cases are only the latest of dozens of instances of “Havana Syndrome" experienced by US diplomats and intelligence officials since 2016 — first in Cuba then in China, Germany, Australia, Taiwan and the US capital.

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US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a law providing financial support for victims of the mysterious illness.

The Havana Act provides financial compensation for members of the State Department and CIA who suffer brain injury from what officials suspect may be directed microwave attacks.

The cause of the illnesses has not been fully diagnosed and the identity of the attacker, if there is one, has not been revealed.

The Cuban government investigated the matter and has repeatedly rejected US statements on the matter as disinformation.

The US Embassy in Bogota, one of the largest in the world, includes a strong contingent of agents working in both intelligence and counter-narcotics operations, in addition to career diplomats and personnel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit the country on October 20.

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first published:October 13, 2021, 13:31 IST