NATO vows strikes will continue; Serb TV shows fresh 'hits'
April 9, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- An auto factory and a fuel depot were claimed as the latest infrastructure casualties in NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia Friday.
In what was the sixteenth night of air attacks, NATO aircraft peppered the country with missile strikes showing no signs of easing its assault.
A local television station, Studio B, reported strikes on suburbs east of Belgrade and two towns further away that were hit in earlier NATO raids -- Pancevo, a city on the Danube River west of Belgrade, and the town of Kragujevac, 60 miles southeast of Belgrade.
The report said in Kragujevac, the factory "Zastava" was hit. It produces automobiles, including the ubiquitous nationally- produced car known as the Yugo. TV Belgrade said several civilian buildings were also been damaged in the town.
Serbian television said a fuel depot in Smederevo, a town on the Danube about 15 miles east of the Yugoslav capital, was hit. According to Serbian TV, the depot was owned by JUGOPETROL, one of the largest oil companies in Yugoslavia.
In a new development, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe officials in Albania told CNN that fighting was taking place at the Yugoslav-Albanian border Friday morning.
The fighting was between Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas on the Albanian side of the border and Yugoslav Army forces inside Yugoslavia (in Kosovo province).
The OSCE says the fighting is "more than the usual border incident" and involves light arms and artillery. It says at least two artillery shells have fallen inside Albanian territory.
The KLA has set up a camp in the border area and has been recruiting new fighters from the ranks of Kosovo-Albanian refugees arriving in Albania from Kosovo, according to the OSCE.
The border crossings between Yugoslavia and Albania were closed Friday morning.
Doubts over GIs
The attacks, aimed at cutting supply lines to the military, came as a high-ranking envoy from Cyprus, Parliamentary Speaker prepared to meet Yugoslav President Friday over the possible release of three American soldiers held captive by Serb forces.
"I expect to have very friendly and constructive negotiations," said Kyprianou who arrived in Belgrade Thursday.
In Washington, President Clinton said he supports "anything honorable that would secure" the release of the three soldiers.
Although Kyprianou expressed optimism he might get the soldiers released, Yugoslav government sources told CNN's Brent Sadler they had "no expectation" that the three would be released soon.
NATO's Operation Allied Force has now stretched into its third week, with the military alliance pledging to press on with the bombing campaign until Milosevic pulls his troops out of Kosovo, accepts a political framework for the region, allows thousands of refugees to return and accepts the presence of a NATO-led peacekeeping force.
Attacks Thursday night and Friday morning were curtailed due to poor weather. CNN's Bill Hemmer reported from the Aviano air base in Italy that fewer flights than normal departed because of the conditions.
Russian President says Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has asked to join the Russian-Belarus union.
Yeltsin says his Yugoslav counterpart made the request in a meeting with the speaker of Russia's lower house of Parliament, Gennady Seleznyov, who returned Thursday from a trip to Belgrade.
Seleznyov briefed Mister Yeltsin and the parliament about the trip on Friday.
Russia and neighboring Belarus have created a loose political union over the past three years. Yugoslavia has observer status in the union's parliamentary assembly. It shares no borders with either country.
Russia has condemned the NATO strikes against Yugoslavia, and Yeltsin has been trying to broker an end to them. He has also reiterated that he won't allow Russia to be drawn into the conflict.
The Russian leader predicted that NATO will not launch a ground offensive in the Yugoslav conflict.
"NATO won't dare start ground operations," Yeltsin said. "If that happens, the Serbs will fight to the end."
Meanwhile, Serbian television aired a report saying a military offensive against what it called "terrorists" in Kosovo had ended and peace had been restored in the province. There was no independent confirmation that the fighting in Kosovo had stopped.
NATO and humanitarian officials expressed concern about the thousands of displaced Kosovar Albanians trapped inside Kosovo after being forced out of their homes. The U.N. refugee agency said the number of those displaced was not known because international monitors had been unable to enter Kosovo to get an accurate tally.
U.S. intelligence estimates that there are more than 700,000 displaced Kosovars within the province. Before monitors left the region in late March, the UNHCR estimated that figure at 260,000.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, said it appeared Serb authorities had closed the borders, halting the outflow of refugees.
"We don't know what has happened to them, and I'm very, very worried," Ogata said.
CNN's Mike Boettcher reported from Kukes on the Kosovo- Albanian border that there were no refugees lined up to cross where there had been thousands earlier in the week. He said Serb soldiers could be seen laying what appeared to be land mines on the Yugoslav side of the border.
NATO issued a warning that unless Serbian television allowed Western broadcasts during two three-hour periods each day it would be bombed because it was being used as a "propaganda tool."
In addition, Air Commodore David Wilby charged that Serb forces, not NATO, were responsible for the devastation of downtown Pristina, the provincial capital of Kosovo.
"NATO has certainly not caused the widespread and random damage which we believe has been orchestrated by Serbian forces," Wilby said.
"We are grieving for our country, I grieve for every single soul there and for every square foot of my country being bombed," said Nadezda Dokovic, one of about 30 people who attended the vigil outside St. Sava Church, which holds the annual event.
The vigil began after the Orthodox Good Thursday liturgy and was expected to continue until 8 a.m. EDT Friday. Orthodox Easter this year falls on Sunday, April 11.
Many of those gathered expressed outrage at NATO's bomb campaign against Yugoslavia, with some saying it drew parallels to Easter 1941 when Germany bombarded Belgrade in early April and German armored spearheads entered the city on Easter.
"On Easter 1941, Belgrade was also bombed. It's a strange coincidence. The very best solution for Yugoslavia right now is the simplest solution: U.S., NATO out of Yugoslavia, out of the Balkans," Milos Raickovich said.
St. Sava is one of two Serbian churches in Manhattan.
Yugoslavia declares 'peace' in Kosovo; NATO airstrikes continue
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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