NATO unleashes heaviest strikes yet on Yugoslavia
May 22, 1999
BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- Overnight air raids into Yugoslavia on Friday and Saturday were the heaviest yet as attack aircraft capitalized on improving weather conditions, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said.
"We took maximum advantage of the opening caused by better weather," Shea said.
NATO military spokesman Col. Konrad Freytag said that 245 out of 684 sorties were strikes, including 90 aimed at suppressing air defenses.
Several of the attacks, said Freytag, targeted Yugoslavia's power production facilities. In Belgrade, CNN's Walter Rodgers said about 60 percent of Serbia was without electricity because of the air strikes.
Serbian media reported that four missiles struck the power plant in Kolubara, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Belgrade, crippling it for weeks to come. At least 13 people were reportedly injured.
Other targets hit included dozens of Serb tanks and a residence of Yugoslav President.
Shea also confirmed Saturday that NATO had bombed a Yugoslav army post taken over by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) more than a month earlier.
International monitors said at least one KLA guerrilla was killed in the Friday attack, and at least 15 others were wounded. The post was located in Kosare, near the northern Albanian border town Tropoja.
"We did strike that border command post," said NATO spokesman Jamie Shea. "It was until very recently in the hands of the Yugoslav army, but it appears that it was then subsequently taken over by the (KLA)."
The KLA used the post to as a staging area for sending supplies to its forces inside Kosovo.
Shea said he could not confirm any casualties.
Shea said that a prison struck Friday in Istok had served as a "major (Serb) staging post since last October." Yugoslav officials said 19 people, including inmates and guards, were killed in the attack.
Serb authorities said the prison held mainly KLA sympathizers.
NATO began bombing Yugoslavia on March 24 to force Milosevic to withdraw military and paramilitary forces from Kosovo, allow hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees to return to their homes and accept an international peace-keeping force with NATO at its core in Kosovo to protect the refugees.
Milosevic has refused to comply until the bombing ends, and NATO says it will not stop the bombing until Milosevic complies.
Yugoslavia blames NATO's airstrikes for the mass exodus of Kosovars from the Serbian province. NATO says that Milosevic's forces are engaging in a systematic ethnic cleaning operation, removing ethnic Albanians from their homes and in some cases using them as "human shields" against NATO's airstrikes.
Thousands of refugees crossed from Kosovo into neighboring Albania and Macedonia on Friday and Saturday, after a week-long lull. Efforts to relocate refugees in camps too close to the Albania-Kosovo border were under way, Shea said, as well as a continued evacuation operation aimed at getting as many refugees as possible out of Macedonia and into third countries.
Refugees crossing the border are telling stories of being forced at gunpoint from their homes, Shea said, and being forced to walk to the border from points miles away.
Shea also said that a United Nations fact-finding team was in Kosovo, where they had been denied access to a number of villages by Serb officials. But they did manage to visit one village, which they found "completely deserted" with "signs of looting and hasty departures, he said.
NATO points to Yugoslav dissent, downplays reports of its own
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.