Outdated intelligence may have led to embassy bombing
NATO says Yugoslav campaign will continue
May 8, 1999
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.
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.
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.
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:
POWs beaten, shackled in Yugoslavia, military says
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
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