NATO: Third of Kosovo population displaced
Says Serb crackdown slowed by fuel shortage
April 2, 1999
BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- NATO said on Friday that the number of ethnic Albanians forced to flee their homes in Kosovo because of the Serb crackdown had now reached 634,000, or about one-third of the pre-conflict population.
But alliance spokesmen Jamie Shea and British Air Commodore David Wilby told a news conference that the sustained NATO airstrikes were causing fuel shortages for the Yugoslav army and Serb police units, and were somewhat slowing the military crackdown in Kosovo.
NATO expressed concern about the continued Kosovo refugee crisis, which the alliance said was caused by a large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign.
The Yugoslav government has denied such allegations, saying the ethnic Albanian refugees are fleeing the fighting between government troops and the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Shea told the news conference at NATO headquarters that Yugoslav troops had forced 30,000 people out of the Kosovo capital in the past 24 hours alone.
He said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was deliberately pushing the refugees out into neighboring countries in order to "destabilize the region."
Shea said NATO would continue to provide tents, communications gear and other aid to go with supplies from the European Union and the U.N. refugee agency.
"Serb paramilitaries, locally raised militias continue to terrorize ethnic Albanians and take advantage of the situations to loot" Kosovo villages, Wilby told the news conference.
He also showed NATO intelligence footage which he said was clear proof of the Serbs' deliberate and systematic destruction of ethnic Albanian property and housing in Kosovo.
NATO said it had reports from various sources saying that families were being separated, and men and boys were led away.
"What has happened to the men?," Shea asked during the news conference. "Will the authorities in Belgrade please tell us: where are all of the Kosovar Albanian men between the ages of 16 and 60?"
Wilby said that more than a week of NATO airstrikes had forced the Yugoslav army to hide its tanks or take up positions in deserted villages and towns.
"This cat and mouse activity is causing them to use up critical fuel supplies," Wilby said, adding that a field brigade had been immobilized on Thursday because of a lack of fuel.
He said NATO bombings against key army supply routes, support facilities and field forces would continue unabated.
Among the targets hit in the recent NATO attack were a bridge in Novi Sad and field force targets in the Pagarusa Valley, where Serb forces were said to have shelled ethnic Albanians.
Serbian state-controlled TV reported Friday that NATO missiles hit an army barracks in the town of Vranje in southeastern Serbia.
The Belgrade-based Tanjug news agency said NATO jets struck targets near the western Kosovo town of Klina, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Pristina.
It was the first reported attack near Klina, located along a major road junction used by Serb forces.
Also, a NATO jet fired missiles Friday at the television transmitter on Mount Cvilen above the southern city of Prizren but missed, the agency said.
"Mr. Milosevic wants to replace President Djukanovic by a man of his own choosing. Although I cannot give you the details today, I can say that I have evidence to show that he's preparing a coup against Montenegro," said Defense Ministry Spokesman Edgar Buckley.
"As a first step, he has already replaced the army commander, Gen. Martinovic, by a new general who can be relied upon to follow his orders," Buckley said.
In Sevastopol, on the Black Sea, the Russian reconnaissance ship Linman left its dock early Friday for the Mediterranean. Its mission, according to the Russian defense minister, is not to fight, but to provide intelligence.
"The purpose is to collect more detailed information. We should have such information in the interests of Russian security," said Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev.
But defense analysts say that intelligence, if shared with the Serbs, could prove dangerous to NATO ships.
The defense minister said as many as six more vessels, including warships, could be sent to the region during the next few days, depending on how events develop.
Captured U.S. soldiers face Serb military trial
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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