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World - Europe

Outdated intelligence may have led to embassy bombing

 embassy rubble
China called NATO's bombing of its embassy a "barbaric act"   
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May 8, 1999
Web posted at: 7:02 p.m. EDT (2302 GMT)

In this story:

U.N. 'shocked and concerned'

Renewed attacks on Belgrade


BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- NATO suspects outdated intelligence led to the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, which NATO mistakenly attacked early Saturday, CNN has learned.

CNN's John Raedler reported Saturday that the intelligence used to identify the building as the Yugoslav capital's Directorate of Supply and Procurement, where military supplies were believed to be, may have been several years old.

Regardless of its cause, the accidental bombing will not deter NATO's air campaign against the "war machine" of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the alliance said.

Both NATO and U.S. President Bill Clinton defended the alliance's strategy of air attacks.

"We need some sense of proportion ... Let's not forget what the record is here," said Clinton, who was in Oklahoma on Saturday to survey tornado damage.

"I hate this, and ... I send my regrets and my profound condolences to the leaders and the people of China, and to the innocent people in Serbia who have perished. ... But someone, sometime, has got to stand up."

NATO spokesman Jamie Shea echoed Clinton's comments.

"Despite last night's accident, we cannot lose sight of the fundamental purpose of NATO's action -- 1.5 million Kosovars displaced, 900,000 outside Kosovo," Shea said. "Men missing, people executed and villages destroyed by the Serb forces."

Serbian news accounts said that four people were killed in the embassy bombing and another 30 were injured.

"We've recognized that this is a mistake, and this is a mistake that we regret," NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said.

The intended target, Shea said, was the Federal Directory for Supply and Procurement in Belgrade.

"I understand that the two buildings are close together," he said. "I've said that we struck the wrong building, and I don't know exactly why that happened. That is a subject which is still being investigated."

China, however, called the attack on its embassy a "crime of war."

"The Chinese government expressed their utmost indignation and severe condemnation of the barbarian act," Chinese U.N. Ambassador Qin Huasan told an open session of the U.N. Security Council early Saturday morning.

In Beijing, thousands of angry protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy late Saturday to protest the bombing. The demonstrators scuffled with police and smashed cars and windows at the embassy.

China was joined by Russia and Yugoslavia in its condemnation of the attack, and all three nations called for an immediate halt to the bombing.

"The targeting of China's embassy is not an accident, is not a collateral damage," said Vladislav Jovanovic, Yugoslavia's charge d'affaires at the United Nations. "This is one accepted harm, one accepted crime, by those who have decided to stage total war against Yugoslavia."

Russian President Boris Yeltsin called the bombing "an act of vandalism" and a "flagrant violation of international law."

"In Russia, we are shaken by the NATO bombardment of the embassy of the Chinese People's Republic in Belgrade. This is an open outrage, and there is not and cannot be any justification for it," Yeltsin said in a statement released by the Kremlin.

U.N. 'shocked and concerned'

The open session followed a three-hour closed door emergency session of the Security Council, called by China. The council released a statement expressing its "shock and concern" over the attack, but stopped short of condemning the bombing or calling for an investigation.

"Members of the Security Council expressed their sympathy and condolences to the Chinese government and the families of the victims," said the statement, read by Council President Denis Dangue Rewake of Gabon.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "shocked and distressed" at news of the embassy bombing, as well as over reports that a hospital was hit in Nis.

NATO acknowledged that one of its cluster bombs may have gone astray during an assault on the airfield at Nis. Yugoslav officials said 10 civilians were killed and 15 wounded in the attack which also struck a city marketplace.

Renewed attacks on Belgrade

The Belgrade attacks ended a three-day lull in the Yugoslav capital. The first explosions knocked out electrical power for the second time this week, and kept the city in the dark into the pre-dawn hours.

Smoke rises above the city of Nis, which came under NATO attack in Friday's air raids  

Hours later, NATO planes attacked Yugoslav military headquarters and the federal police station in the old city, both targets of past assaults. Also struck in the bombing was the Hotel Yugoslavia, a headquarters of paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic, known as "Arkan."

"Arkan has been responsible for many, many, many murders, many, many killings," said Solana. "He is a publicly indicted war criminal."

But Raznatovic said Saturday that NATO's attempt to strike at his group, the Tigers, was unsuccessful.

"They didn't hit no headquarters of Tigers. They didn't hit even one Tiger," he said. "They're all alive, and they're going to wait for the NATO ground troops."

In other developments:

  • Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov canceled a three-day trip to Britain due to the "sharply worsening situation in the Balkans." British Foreign Minister Robin Cook said Ivanov had assured him the cancellation was not a statement on the status of relations between Russia and Britain, and that the two planned to meet "as soon as possible."

  • Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia's envoy to the Balkans, was in Germany to continue his shuttle diplomacy mission. Despite Moscow's unhappiness with the embassy bombing, he was scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Saturday.

  • Moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Fehmi Agani, who participated in the peace talks at Rambouillet, has been found dead. Serb police accused the Kosovo Liberation Army of killing him, but Agani's family said that he was arrested Thursday by Serb police and not seen alive again.

    Correspondents Brent Sadler and John Raedler and Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon contributed to this report.

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    Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
      • Kosovo

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

      • Kosova Crisis Center
      • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
      • Kosovo - from

      • F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
      • 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

      • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
      • Doctors of the World
      • The IOM Migration Web
      • InterAction
      • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
      • International Committee of the Red Cross
      • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
      • Catholic Relief Services
      • Kosovo Relief
      • ReliefWeb: Home page
      • The Jewish Agency for Israel
      • Mercy International

      • Carl Bildt in English
      • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
      • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
      • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
      • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

      • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
      • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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