Yugoslavia says village death toll tops 100
May 14, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Yugoslavia blamed NATO Friday for an attack on a Kosovo village it said left at least 100 people dead. NATO said Friday it had attacked several targets in the area, but had no details on the incident.
Authorities told CNN that the victims in the town of Korisa, near the southern city of Prizren, included many ethnic Albanian refugees. The town was sheltering as many as 500 refugees the day before the attack, Yugoslav officials said.
At NATO headquarters in Belgium, alliance spokesman Jamie Shea said a "full and thorough investigation" into the Yugoslav report was in the works. He had no other information, but added, "NATO does not target civilians. That's it, let's be perfectly clear about that."
Serbian television showed scenes of devastation, bodies burned beyond recognition and charred tractors scattered at the scene of the attack.
Government officials told CNN the refugees were returning to their homes inside Kosovo. But Kosovo refugees in Albania said the Serbs have evicted scores of Albanians from that area in recent days, raising questions about whether the victims were returning of their own free will.
Rescuers told the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug that they expect the death toll to rise "sharply" as they look for more possible victims. Yugoslav officials were bringing Western journalists to the scene to view the damage.
Yugoslavia said NATO jets dropped cluster bombs on Korisa. The attack took place as allied pilots flew 679 sorties Thursday and Friday -- a new high in the 8-week-old Balkan air war.
Recent NATO attacks have concentrated on Yugoslav forces on the ground -- tanks and armored vehicles, troops, assembly areas and artillery pieces.
The alliance hit several targets in the area, particularly early Friday around Prizren and during the night around the Stimlje area, said Maj. Gen. Walter Jertz, NATO's military spokesman.
"In these areas around Prizren and in other areas, we have a lot of legitimate targets," Jertz said. But he said he did not have enough information to elaborate.
Better weather aids NATO pilots
Better late-spring weather has helped NATO increase the pace and accuracy of its airstrikes, said British Rear Adm. Simon Moore, assistant chief of defense staff.
"It's largely because of good weather," Moore said. "The other factor is, because of that, we also know where the Serbs are."
Allied planes armed with special graphite bombs targeted Serbia's electrical power grid, blacking out districts of Yugoslavia's three largest cities -- Belgrade, Nis and Novi Sad. The cities of Leskovac, Pirot and Sabac also reported blackouts.
The so-called "soft bombs" explode above electric power plants and spray the area with graphite, a conductor that causes short circuits without destroying power grids.
Serbian television on Friday reported that a bridge in the residential area of Vrbas and an area near the town of Uzice were hit overnight. Djakovica, Pec and Urosevac were also targeted, the network reported.
Those raids came just hours after a contingent of Yugoslav troops -- about 150 men -- left Kosovo on Thursday in what NATO officials considered a largely theatrical gesture.
"We still believe it is only a token effort to give the impression that a withdrawal has begun," Jertz said.
NATO officials believe there were about 40,000 Yugoslav forces in Kosovo, including some 300 armored vehicles, when the war began March 24.
NATO dismisses Serb pullout, knocks out electricity
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