NATO unleashes missile assault across Yugoslavia
April 24, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- NATO unleashed a barrage of missile strikes on targets across Yugoslavia early Saturday, including 26 missiles that slammed into Nis, a city that has faced relentless bombardment during Operation Allied Force.
Belgrade radio said the attack on Nis, about 125 miles (200 km) southeast of Belgrade, ripped through an industrial zone and knocked out electrical power and running water to nearby areas.
In Novi Sad, Serbia's second-largest city, an oil refinery and the last remaining bridge were attacked in what Belgrade radio said was NATO's 12th strike on the city.
Two oil storage tankers were ablaze. Belgrade radio said six missiles were fired at the bridge but it appeared to have withstood the assault.
In the village of Bogutovac, near the central Serb city Kraljevo, a fuel depot owned by Beopetrol was struck. Twenty explosions jolted the southwestern Serb town of Novi Pazar, near Montenegro, but further details were not immediately available.
Belgrade radio also said 15 missiles hit Pristina, the Kosovo capital, causing extensive damage to civilian areas.
The attacks ushered in the 32nd day of NATO air raids as NATO advanced plans to block the flow of oil into Yugoslavia by bombing pipelines and stopping tankers before they docked in Montenegro.
NATO defense ministers agreed Friday on a two-pronged plan which includes stopping oil tankers at sea, and more aggressive bombing of oil pipelines and distribution facilities in Yugoslavia.
Senior alliance officials said NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Wesley Clark was directed to draw up a plan as soon as possible for a "visit and search regime" for ships going into the Montenegran ports of Bar and Kotor Bay.
Clark also was ordered to carry out intensified attacks on pipelines and tanker trucks in Yugoslavia, but not to bomb facilities in Montenegro.
More troops on the way
The Pentagon also announced that 2,000 more U.S. ground troops are being sent to Albania, along with 15 more tanks, 14 more Bradley fighting vehicles and nine more anti- personnel missile systems to reinforce a battalion of 24 Apache attack helicopters.
The additional deployments will begin next week, bringing the number of U.S. ground troops in Albania to 5,300.
Earlier in the day, NATO leaders, gathering in Washington for the alliance's 50th anniversary, said the air campaign is beginning to take a toll on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
"We are winning. He is losing. And he knows it," Clark, the Supreme NATO commander in the conflict, told NATO leaders.
U.S. President Bill Clinton, in his opening remarks to NATO leaders, said, "We have done everything we could to resolve this matter peacefully, but when we fight, we fight to prevail."
The meeting is shadowed by the issue of whether contingency plans should be made for deployment of possible ground troops to achieve the alliance's objectives in Kosovo. The United States has opposed this option.
"This matter was not raised for a very simple reason -- which is that we have a strategy and nobody is considering changing it," said French President Jacques Chirac.
NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said the air raids that struck Serbian Television headquarters in downtown Belgrade early Friday and on one of Milosevic's homes Thursday were part of intensified attacks on "the very central nervous system of Milosevic's regime."
He said NATO was now hitting targets that "plan and direct and create the political environment of terrorism," including two electrical transformers that supply power to much of Belgrade.
U.S. and British defense officials said Serbian TV was targeted as a "propaganda machine" that was "prolonging the war."
It later resumed broadcasting from a makeshift studio in a secret location.
Tuning out Serbian TV
When asked if NATO planned to knock Serbian TV off the air for good, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon replied, "Stay tuned."
CNN reporters in Belgrade saw bodies being pulled from the building after the strike and said Yugoslav officials reported at least 10 people killed, 18 hospitalized with serious burns and 20 people missing, possibly trapped in the rubble.
A Yugoslav member of government, Goran Matic, told CNN correspondent Brent Sadler the NATO attack was a "criminal act." He said the Yugoslav government considered those responsible, "murderers".
NATO beefs up forces, moves to block Yugoslav oil
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