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Friday, April 9, 1999 Published at 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK

World: Europe

Human chains guard Nato targets

Refugees queue for supplies at Brazda in Macedonia

Thousands of Serbs formed human shields to protect key bridges during another night of Nato bombing.

Kosovo: Special Report
Serb media said senior politicians joined crowds at a rock concert on the Brankov bridge in Belgrade. Similar demonstrations were also reported in the northern town of Novi Sad.

There were no reports that bridges were hit overnight, although a Pentagon statement said such action would not protect targets.

The overnight strikes on Yugoslavia were hampered by bad weather. An official in Brussels said most of the manned flights had been prevented from hitting their targets by the poor visibility.

Click here for a map showing Nato's latest strikes

Heavy cloud appears to have stopped sorties striking at Serb field forces in Kosovo.

However, several missiles were reported to have hit Yugoslavia's sole car factory, in the town of Kragujevac.

The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said the Zastava plant was badly damaged in two waves of attacks.

Jon Leyne: Nato now say they are "not attacking Serb TV transmitters as such"
Early on Friday - Good Friday in the Orthodox world - Serbian television showed pictures of a fuel depot exploding in the town of Smederevo east of Belgrade after a Nato attack.

Other targets included a power line in Valjevo and a television transmitter, believed to be in use for military purposes.

Overnight reports from a British ship in the Adriatic, the HMS Somerset, said radar showed two Serb MiG-29 fighters some 50 miles out to sea - the furthest such sortie observed since the start of the Nato air campaign.

American fighters took off to intercept them, but the two MiGs turned back without putting up a fight.

Refugee mission

On the ground in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, Sadako Ogata, is touring one of the largest tent camps for Kosovo Albanians.

She is due to meet the Macedonian president and prime minister and has already made clear her disapproval of the Macedonian policy carried out in recent days of deporting refugees on the border instead of sending them to Nato relief centres.

For its part, Macedonia confirmed that one of its soldiers has been shot dead on the border with Serbia. Earlier a senior Western diplomat said the Macedonian was killed by shots believed to have come from Serbia.

Captured soldiers

In Yugoslavia, the speaker of the Cyprus parliament, Spyros Kyprianou, is hoping to meet the Yugoslav president on Friday in a bid to secure the release of three captured American soldiers.

However, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj has said the liberation of the soldiers was out of the question.

And Miodrag Popovic, Serbian Deputy Information Minister, told BBC News 24: "How can Nato expect a goodwill gesture when they are killing Serbian civilians?"

Media war

Elsewhere there were releases by the Yugoslav Army - two European camera crews were freed after a stand-off with the government of Montenegro.

The crews, including one from the BBC, had been accused of trespassing in military zones.

For its part, Nato has revised the warning it made on Thursday that Serb TV and radio transmitters might be attacked because they were being used as tools of propaganda and repression.

It has said they will be targeted only if they are used for military purposes.

Earlier, Nato military officials threatened to attack Serbian state broadcasting transmitters unless the authorities allowed Western news broadcasts to be screened.

Staff working for Serbian state TV said Nato was being ordered to shoot at the truth and that they could not have received a better compliment.

They also accused Western media of distorting the story from in and around Kosovo.

Nato humanitarian operation

[ image: Young and old: Forced from their homes]
Young and old: Forced from their homes
On Thursday, Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana announced that 8,000 ground troops would be sent to Albania to help aid agencies deal with the huge numbers of refugees.

Operation Allied Harbour, which involves 14 nations, will begin by the end of next week.

Nato has also said it has established five camps in Macedonia to accommodate more than 40,000 refugees.

Miodrag Popovic: "Refugees will be safe from Nato bombardment"
Reports say 25,000-30,000 refugees trapped in Kosovo are being forced back to their homes after Serbs closed down border crossing points on Wednesday.

Mr Solana suggested Yugoslavia's President Milosevic could either be trying to stop the images of people fleeing Kosovo, or be planning to use the refugees as human shields.

The Yugoslav Government has insisted that international aid agencies can have unfettered access to Kosovo to monitor the return of refugees.

Other top stories
The UNHCR says the number of people who have fled Kosovo since 24 March, when Nato began bombing Yugoslavia, is now more than 620,000.

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