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Sunday, March 28, 1999 Published at 03:26 GMT

World: Europe

Serbs say Nato plane shot down

Serbs say these markings belong to a F-117 Stealth fighter

Serbian television has shown pictures of wreckage which it says is a Nato warplane shot down over Yugoslavia.

Kosovo: Special Report
RTS television said the plane was an F-117 Stealth fighter bomber. The Serbian TV report also said two Nato pilots had been captured, one of them a German.

The US news agency Associated Press says an unnamed senior US defence official has confirmed an F-117A Stealth fighter was missing after a mission over Yugoslavia.

Exerpt from Belgrade's RTS report on "downed" plane (in Serbian)
Nato has not confirmed any aircraft losses, while the German government says none of its pilots are missing.

But Italy's Under Secretary for Defence, Massimo Brutti, said on state television: "I have had confirmation that one plane did not return."

BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus says although the TV pictures are not conclusive, there are aspects of the wreckage that are similar to the F-117.

"Looking at the pictures there is one particular part of the aircraft, a sort of upright strake with fingers at the end, which do look very much like an F-117," he said.

Nato broadens campaign

Reports of the downed plane came soon after Nato forces were authorised to attack a broader range of targets in Yugoslavia.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea said the decision had been taken in the light of reports of atrocities and intimidation by Serbian forces in Kosovo.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea explains the new strategy
"There is clearly a sense of urgency to move against those Yugoslav targets in and around Kosovo which are directly carrying out those offensive operations," Dr Shea said.

Nato commanders may now order attacks on tanks and other military installations.

Up to now, the attacks have been aimed at Yugoslavia's air defence systems.

Riskier strategy

[ image: Nato forces were continuing to prepare their aircraft on Saturday]
Nato forces were continuing to prepare their aircraft on Saturday
BBC Defence Correspondent Mark Laity says Nato's decision involves risk, as Nato aircraft will have to fly lower to hit their targets.

Nato reaffirmed it was not at war with Yugoslavia, and said President Slobodan Milosevic could halt the air raids by agreeing to international demands on Kosovo.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has pledged to increase Britain's air power contribution to the Nato air strikes.

Refugee exodus

Bridget Kendall: New urgency to Nato's campaign
As many as 30,000 refugees are believed to be stranded without shelter inside Kosovo, with thousands more crossing into neighbouring Albania and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

Refugees crossing into Macedonia painted a consistent picture of atrocities by the Yugoslav army and the Serbian special police force, according to BBC Correspondent Clarence Mitchell.

Fourth day of attacks

[ image:  ]
The decision to step up the campaign against Yugoslavia came at the end of the fourth day of air strikes against Yugoslav targets.

A senior Nato official in Washington said strikes began on Saturday with a Tomahawk cruise missile launched onto the vicinity of the capital, Belgrade.

US officials later reported that American warships in the Adriatic had launched two Tomahawk missiles in daylight.

Air-raid sirens sounded in Belgrade and in Pristina, and large explosions were reported in the Yugoslav capital.

Witnesses reported scores of people rushing to bomb shelters after the sirens sounded and the explosions began.

Nato 'despotism'

[ image:  ]
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic appeared unbowed, saying Nato "despotism" must be resisted.

Speaking on state television, President Milosevic said the Nato raids were ruining the United Nations system, and were the worst threat to peace since the World War II ended in 1945.

Serbian officials said the KLA had stepped up its attacks on Serb forces in Kosovo.

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