April 17, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- NATO airstrikes pounded Yugoslavia's two oil refineries late Saturday, according to Serbian TV, as the alliance entered the 26th day of its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.
Pictures were shown of strikes on refineries at Novi Sad and Pancevo. The two refineries had each been struck at least twice before. NATO has said that neither refinery is functioning. A petrochemical plant at Pancevo was also reported hit.
NATO has said its intention is to deny the Yugoslav Army petroleum products, but the attacks have prompted long lines at gasoline pumps. In Belgrade, CNN was allowed to photograph a string of motorists who waited for hours for the monthly allotment of 10 gallons of gasoline.
In addition, Serbian TV reported NATO strikes in other areas. At Sremska Mitrovica, Yugoslav forces said they had shot down cruise missiles.
At Batajnica, Serbian TV showed pictures what it said was residential housing hit by airstrikes on Saturday night. The broadcast indicated a number of people were wounded, including a 2-year-old girl.
Other areas sustaining hits, Serbian TV said, include Rakovica, a Belgrade suburb, Pozega, Uzice and Valjevo. There were no reports on what had been hit.
In Aviano, Italy, NATO's supreme commander Gen. Wesley Clark said Saturday that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had ordered the shelling of Kosovar Albanian refugees driven across the border into Albania.
"We've seen a continuing build-up of artillery in the western part of Kosovo," said Clark, citing a rocket with a range of 50 km (30 miles).
Milosevic is "firing it, lobbing it, across those mountains, indiscriminately targeting civilians in Albania," Clark said.
"These rounds are falling amongst the refugees he's just abused and thrown out of their homes. Now he shelling them with artillery when they are trying to escape from him," he said.
Clark also said Yugoslav snipers were firing at Albanian Army troops along the border and "deep" reconnaissance missions by Yugoslav forces had been detected.
NATO admitted last week that one of its pilots "mistakenly" dropped a bomb on a civilian vehicle near Djakovica. Since then NATO has turned aside all media questions for further information, saying an investigation is continuing.
Yugoslav authorities have charged that NATO attacked a civilian convoy and killed as many as 85 ethnic Albanians.
NATO has not admitted responsibility for the deaths and destruction Western news crews were allowed to tape in the presence of Serb authorities south of Djakovica, and Clark warned the truth may never be completely clear.
"I have sifted through the continuing reports of the incident," he said Saturday. "I am astonished by the fog and there's no way without having been on the ground to really determine what happened."
Clark and the Pentagon admitted that an audio tape played for reporters was not of the pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb.
"It was a pilot flying somewhere in the area that day," Clark said.
NATO said a Serb lieutenant captured by the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo and turned over to U.S. forces would be treated under the terms of the Geneva Conventions.
"He has been examined by a doctor. He has been given shelter, food and has access to religious counseling. He has also access to the International Committee of the Red Cross and he will have all the protection and rights accorded by the third Geneva Convention," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said.
The soldier, a lieutenant and a platoon leader, has made contact with the ICRC, said Navy Capt. Michael Doubleday at a Pentagon briefing.
The soldier was allowed to write a letter to his family which was given to the ICRC for delivery, Doubleday said.
At the Albanian border, more than 30,000 refugees arrived between mid-Friday and mid-Saturday, relief officials told CNN. The refugees said thousands more displaced Kosovars are behind them.
The refugee flow was also reported to be heavy into Macedonia. One official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said, "This is the beginning of the final push to completely rid Kosovo of its ethnic Albanians.
NATO said there was new evidence of mass graves holding as many as 150 people in west central Kosovo.
"In fact, some refugees have even reported that Kosovar Albanians have been forced to dig these mass graves and put the bodies in," said Shea.
NATO has engaged in a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia for its refusal to comply with an internationally brokered peace agreement. It outlines an autonomy plan for Kosovo, a province in Serbia, the predominant state in the Yugoslav federation.
In a letter to the London Sunday Times, President Clinton calls Milosevic "Europe's worst demagogue" and suggests that he will have to go. But the president still supports an autonomous Kosovo within Yugoslavia.
"The best solution is not the endless shifting of Europe's borders along ethnic lines, but greater integration among European states that work together to make a virtue, not a blood feud, out of diversity.
"Realistically, the realization of this vision will require a democratic transition in Serbia itself, for the region cannot be secure with a belligerent tyrant in its midst."
Clinton said Milosevic can end NATO bombing campaign by agreeing to international demands including a NATO led force to implement a peace agreement in Kosovo.In other developments:
U.S. holding Yugoslav officer as POW
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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