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World - Europe

Downed NATO pilot rescued, U.S. officials say

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Serbian TV images of reportedly downed F-117A stealth fighter

related videoRELATED VIDEO
CNN's Brent Sadler reports on Yugoslavia's claim that a warplane was shot down Saturday, March 27
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NATO releases video of airstrikes
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Crisis in Kosovo
  

March 27, 1999
Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EST (0000 GMT)


In this story:

Serbs say NATO bombs hit civilian targets

Military casualties

Conflict threatens to spread

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- The pilot of a NATO warplane down in Yugoslavia has been rescued, senior U.S. officials told CNN late Saturday.

Yugoslav authorities had claimed they downed a NATO warplane Saturday, as NATO unleashed a fourth day of airstrikes on Yugoslavia.

Serbian television Sunday showed video of what it said was a F-117A Stealth Nighthawk that had been shot down by Yugoslav forces.

According to Yugoslav state TV, the plane went down approximately 40 kilometers west of Belgrade about 10 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EST).

Serbian television pictures showed burning wreckage with the aircraft's identification number, AF-806, clearly visible. A stealth fighter with the number AF-806 appears in a photo on a U.S. Air Force web site on the Internet.

Chris Uhles, a spokesman at Holloman, told CNN all F-117 fighters are from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Serbs say NATO bombs hit civilian targets

Also in Belgrade, Yugoslav officials showed international journalists what they said was damage to non-military targets from the NATO bombing and said its air defenses remained intact.

NATO is "acting like an invisible coward with acts of aggression against Serb civilian structures," said Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic.

CNN's Brent Sadler was taken to a factory in Rakovica, just west of Belgrade, which Yugoslav officials said was hit by a cruise missile.

The large facility, which the officials said manufactures engines for civilian vehicles, appeared heavily damaged, with hundreds of its windows broken out.

Nearby, a family with three children huddled in an air raid shelter. The father said he was a worker in the engine factory.

The local media has reported that the attacks damaged schools, homes and hospitals.

Sadler was also shown a military communications site in Rakovica, which Draskovic said had been struck daily since the NATO bombings began last Wednesday.

Military casualties

Yugoslav officials said there were military casualties from the bombings, but did not specify how many.

The chief of the Yugoslav Army information service said at a news conference Saturday that Yugoslav air defenses remained in good shape despite the bombings and could still shoot down NATO aircraft.

NATO attacks on Belgrade resumed before dusk Saturday, with the launch of Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. warships, one from the USS Philippine Sea and another an hour later from the destroyer USS Gonzales.

Fireballs have lit up the night sky in Belgrade since the attacks began and a forest near a popular suburb has been set ablaze. Residents have for the most part deserted the city's streets and headed for underground shelters.

Fuel has been restricted to essential services. City buses and trams are still running, but with few riders.

Conflict threatens to spread

Air raid sirens also went off Saturday in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro.

The pro-Western Montenegro, which along with Serbia is one of two republics making up the Yugoslav federation, has tried to remain neutral during the airstrikes.

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has accused Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic of dragging the country into a pointless war.

MiG-29
One of two Yugoslav MiG-29s shot down by U.S. F-15s  

The NATO Stabilization Force base at Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, also went on alert early Saturday when two Yugoslav helicopters were spotted heading toward Bosnian air space.

"Our early morning system picked up two helicopters heading into the east approaching Bosnian air space and we immediately took defensive measures," said U.S. Major Tom Evans.

The helicopters did not cross the border.

Two U.S. F-15s shot down two Yugoslav MiG-29s that violated Bosnian air space Friday evening, said a NATO official. Local and NATO authorities are searching for the pilots, one of whom parachuted out of his plane, according to eyewitnesses. The wreckage of one has been found. A third aircraft escaped and returned to Yugloslav airspace, said sources.

A total of five Yugoslav planes had been shot down, according to NATO officials.


Correspondents Jim Bitterman, Brent Sadler and Tom Mintier contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
Nighthawk at a glance
March 27, 1999
Pentagon: 'We have made progress'
March 26, 1999
Greeks angered by NATO strikes clash with riot police
March 26, 1999
Security Council rejects Russian call to halt bombing
March 26, 1999
Russia expels NATO staff; Greece calls for bombing halt
March 26, 1999
Serb attacks reported on Kosovo villages
March 26, 1999
NATO: Yugo ground troops may be targeted
March 26, 1999
Poll: Americans split on NATO airstrikes
March 25, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

Media:
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage>
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