NATO Hit Refugee Center, Agency Says FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 15 Apr 1999 21:45:12 -0700 (PDT)


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FWD
                                 
Agency Says NATO Hit Refugee Center
12:21 a.m. Apr 16, 1999 Eastern

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Yugoslavia's official
news agency Tanjug said NATO missiles hit a
refugee center south of Belgrade early Friday
but gave no details of casualties.

``According to the...district civil defense at
least three missiles were fired on a former
youth settlement which is now inhabited by
refugees from Croatia and Bosnia,'' Tanjug
said.

It said the attack, two days after a refugee
convoy was hit in Kosovo, occurred in the
Serbian town of Paracin, about 95 miles
south of Belgrade.

Neither this nor any other Tanjug report
Friday has been independently verified. In
Brussels, an official at NATO headquarters
said they were checking the report.

The latest NATO attacks on Yugoslavia
underscored the alliance's vow not to let what
it called the mistaken bombing of the civilian
vehicle earlier in the week weaken its resolve.

Attacks on other targets continued in the early
hours of Friday. Tanjug said the Belgrade
suburb of Rakovica was hit by two missiles.
Earlier it reported an attack on Belgrade's
Pancevo oil refinery.

In Belgrade, two explosions and a large fire
were reported in the industrial suburb of
Pancevo.

``Installations on the Pancevo oil refinery and
an oil depot in the nitrogen plant were hit,''
Yugoslavia's official news agency Tanjug
quoted the district civil defense as saying.

Belgrade's sky was lit up by anti-aircraft fire
as NATO planes continued to fly over the
city.

For the first time, NATO hit targets near the
Hungarian border. Four loud explosions were
reported in the northern Serbian town of
Subotica, just 12 km from Hungary.

The alliance admitted Thursday it mistakenly
bombed a civilian vehicle in a convoy in
Kosovo but said ``one tragic accident'' would
not weaken its resolve to forge ahead with its
air war.

In Brussels, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea
said: ``NATO deeply regrets the loss of life to
civilians from the attack yesterday on a
convoy travelling between Prizren and
Djakovica.''

The United States said the mistaken attack,
which Serb media said killed 64 people, was
the regrettable result of an air war provoked
by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

``That is regrettable. It is also inevitable in a
conflict of this kind,'' President Clinton said
in reference to the Wednesday bombing error.

``I believe when the scales are weighed, it
will be obvious that this is a result of Mr.
Milosevic's policies,'' Clinton said.

Correspondents taken to the scene saw a
man's body seated at the wheel of his tractor,
with two severed legs on the trailer behind.

On the grass nearby lay a man's head and
about a dozen bodies, clearly mutilated by
explosions.

``There were four attacks, one after another.
Seventy-two people were killed and dozens
wounded,'' said Colonel Slobodan
Stojanovic, a Yugoslav army spokesman
accompanying the group.

``Some were severely wounded and more
people will die. It was a deliberate act to
create as many civilian casualties as
possible,'' Stojanovic said.

Serb officials said the column consisted
almost exclusively of women, children and
older people.

NATO warplanes also struck at targets around
Montenegro Thursday in an apparent
concerted daylight raid against Yugoslav air
defense systems, government officials said.

Between eight and 12 bombs hit sites near the
capital, while up to five bombs damaged
installations close to the central town of
Danilovgrad.

NATO has intensified air raids this week and
asked for an extra 300 aircraft from the
United States to bring its air fleet up to 1,100
planes.

It is costly. The White House told U.S.
legislators Thursday it expected to seek nearly
$6 billion dollars for military operations in
Yugoslavia, including cash to care for ethnic
Albanian refugees and to assist neighboring
states, congressional sources said.

On the diplomatic front, Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright spoke to her Russian
counterpart Igor Ivanov in a fresh attempt to
stop the conflict from damaging relations
between them.

Albright, testifying before a U.S. House of
Representatives subcommittee, said her
department looked into the possibility of
partitioning Kosovo but decided it would not
be feasible.


Defense Secretary William Cohen said the
NATO campaign would continue to be
restricted to air attacks, saying the alliance
could not agree on the use of ground forces,
partly out of fear of damaging ties with
Russia.

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