Cuba

Tillerson: Diplomats suffered ‘health attacks’

HAVANA — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been the victims of “health attacks” that left them with hearing loss — the most definitive U.S. statement yet on a series of mysterious incidents that have puzzled longtime observers of U.S.-Cuban relations.

His comments came two days after the State Department issued a vaguely worded statement saying there had been “incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms.” U.S. officials later revealed that American diplomats had suffered unexplained losses of hearing, and on Thursday Canada’s government said at least one Canadian diplomat in Cuba also had been treated for hearing loss.

“We hold the Cuban authorities responsible for finding out who is carrying out these health attacks on not just our diplomats but, as you’ve seen now, there are other cases with other diplomats involved,” Tillerson said in Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Trump and members of his administration spoke to reporters.

In the fall of 2016, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing. Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States.

Kenya

Kenyatta declared winner of election

NAIROBI — President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner Friday of Kenya’s hard-fought presidential election, but opposition candidate Raila Odinga alleged the voting was rigged.

In announcing the results of Tuesday’s contest, the election commission said Kenyatta won a second term with 54 percent in balloting it called “credible, fair and peaceful.”

Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s first president after independence from Britain, appealed for calm and unity after the bitter campaign.

Syria

US-backed fighters link up from east, west

U.S.-backed Syrian fighters advancing on the Islamic State group from the eastern and western parts of the northern city of Raqqa have linked up for the first time since launching their offensive on IS’s de facto capital, officials said Friday.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, under the cover of U.S.-backed coalition airstrikes, launched a wide offensive to capture the city June 6 and have managed so far to take about half the city.

The linkup of the eastern and western fronts deprives IS from access to the Euphrates River — and effectively leaves the remaining militants in Raqqa and thousands of civilians surrounded. However, a U.S. spokesman cautioned that there is still tough fighting ahead before Raqqa is completely taken from the militants.

Venezuela

Peru orders Venezuela ambassador to leave

CARACAS — Peru expelled Venezuela’s ambassador Friday as regional pressure built on President Nicolas Maduro’s government for allegedly trampling his country’s constitutional order.

The Venezuelan government retaliated by ordering the head of Peru’s embassy in Caracas to leave and called the Peruvian president an “enemy” of Venezuela and of Latin American unity.

Wire reports