NATO bombing continues; U.S. blames bad maps for embassy strike
U.S. missions attacked in China
May 9, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- NATO followed its apology for the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade with more air strikes on Yugoslav targets overnight Saturday and Sunday morning.
"Last night and yesterday, our operations were affected again by weather, particularly in Kosovo," said NATO's military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Walter Jertz. "Still, over 500 NATO sorties were flown, and we were able to attack many of our planned targets ... (including) Pristina airfield and a Serbian military assembly area."
The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said the alliance had attacked Yugoslav army positions with cluster bombs in the western Kosovo town of Djakovica, causing extensive damage and sending columns of ethnic Albanians fleeing the area. The report could not be independently confirmed.
In China, tens of thousands protested the attack on the Chinese Embassy, which NATO said occurred because faulty intelligence led them to believe the building was a Yugoslav supply facility. Three people were killed and 20 injured.
A U.S. official told CNN Sunday that the initial target suggestion that led to the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade came from the CIA.
But the official pointed out that the initial suggestion was reviewed at dozens of levels, both in the Pentagon and at NATO, before the target was assigned.
This process, which could include the Joint Staff, U.S. European command and NATO planners, is designed to ensure the object being targeted is not near schools, hospitals, embassies or other sensitive areas. This time, the official said, the process failed.
Contributing to the problem, CNN was told, were the maps for the area. All available maps for the area showed the Chinese Embassy in its former location and not its current location, where it has been for about four years.
China joined a chorus of voices from Russia and Yugoslavia calling for an end to the bombing. But officials from NATO nations repeated their assertion that the air campaign would continue until the safe return of Kosovo refugees can be assured.
"NATO's air campaign ... has continued and will continue again next week, and we will continue for as many weeks after that as we need to complete the task," British Armed Forces Minister Doug Henderson said.
NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said that NATO began its campaign only after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "made clear he was only interested in force." NATO was forced to respond, he said, because Serb forces were targeting ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
But Russia's special Balkans envoy, making the rounds in Europe in search of a peaceful resolution to the Kosovo crisis, said that the bombing must end.
"Bombing won't resolve anything," former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said in Germany. "It has to be a political resolution."
Chernomyrdin returned to Moscow on Sunday with "new factors" to be discussed with President Boris Yeltsin. He did not elaborate on what those factors might be, but said he had spoken with Milosevic by phone about them.
"I can say there are some encouraging results from the conversations with Milosevic, but I will not say anything yet," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Chernomyrdin as saying.
While in Germany, Chernomyrdin met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova and U.N. Balkans representative Carl Bildt. He told the Russian news agency that he would meet with Finnish and U.S. officials before returning to Belgrade.
NATO also said Sunday that it appeared Kosovo Liberation Army fighters were providing some measure of protection for displaced persons inside Kosovo.
"When we look at where the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Kosovo Albanians are taking shelter, these locations very often coincide with many of the (KLA) controlled areas," Jertz said. "In fact it appears that some sanctuary is being provided for these unfortunate people within these areas."
Jertz stressed that while NATO was "not the air force of the KLA," NATO's operations were aiding the ethnic Albanian separatists by limiting the actions of Yugoslav forces.
"It appears that our operations against Serbian police and military forces in Kosovo may be allowing the (KLA) to take care of their kinfolk," he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of refugees continued to flee Kosovo. Shea said that refugees entering Albania were offering evidence of a "systematic expulsion" from their homes by Serb forces.
NATO, he said, was building more camps and repairing roads to accommodate the influx of refugees.
Other refugees, including 2,000 who arrived in the United States on Saturday, were heading for sanctuary in third countries.
Correspondents Carl Rochelle, Jill Dougherty, Rebecca MacKinnon, Matthew Chance and Brent Sadler contributed to this report.
POWs beaten, shackled in Yugoslavia, military says
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