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US warns employees in China after consulate staff member suffers possible sonic attack

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The has issued a alert to its employees in after one of them experienced a possible sonic attack and suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, an incident termed as "very similar" to suspected attacks on American diplomatic staff in

The said they are taking these reports seriously and have taken up the matter with Chinese officials.

"A government employee in recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal sensations of sound and pressure," the said yesterday.

"We do not currently know what caused the reported symptoms and we are not aware of any similar situations in China, either inside or outside of the diplomatic community," it said.

Embassy said the employee had suffered a "variety of physical symptoms" between late 2017 and April 2018 while working at the in the southern city of

The employee was sent back to the US, and on May 18 the embassy learnt that they had been diagnosed with mild (MTBI), she added.

The warning from the State Department recalled a of so-called "sonic attacks" on American diplomats in Those incidents, still unexplained, prompted the withdrawal of most personnel from in 2016.

today said he was concerned about the incident and has brought it to the notice of his Chinese counterpart State Councilor

"It's a serious medical incident. We want to make sure and take care of every one of our officers serving overseas. We've learnt about it only recently. We are still trying to identify all the circumstances surrounding it," he said.

"We are working to figure out what took place both in and now in China, as well," said Pompeo, who called medical details in both locations "very similar and entirely consistent" with each other.

The report of the mysterious incident comes at a sensitive time for US-China relations. The recently threatened to impose steep tariffs on imported goods from China unless pledges to make big in its trade surplus with the US. China, in turn, retaliated with higher tariffs on and auto parts.

China, Pompeo said, has offered to assist the US in investigating how this came to be. "The State Councilor Wang and I had a moment to talk about how we can endeavour to figure out what happened here to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again in their country," he said.

Wang said China has been investigating this matter in a "very responsible" manner.

"We haven't found that any organisation or individual has carried out such a sonic influence. We will stay in communication with the US through diplomatic channels, and we would suggest that US side can also carry out some internal investigation," he said.

Wang said they do not want to see that "this individual case will be magnified, complicated, or even politicised".

"We hope people will not associate it with other unnecessary matters. China will, in accordance with the law, protect all the lawful rights and interests of foreigners in China, especially those of diplomats.That's our firm commitment," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 24 2018. 16:00 IST