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Sunday, April 11, 1999 Published at 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK

World: Europe

Nato gets Albanian launchpad

Nato is sending more A-10 tankbusters

The Albanian Government is handing over to Nato control of its airspace, ports and military installations to support the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Kosovo: Special Report
The announcement comes as Nato prepares to send reinforcements to the Balkans to bolster its continuing air strikes.

The Albanian Foreign Minister, Paskal Milo, announced the handover of powers to Nato during a live link-up from Tirana to a UK Ministry of Defence news conference in London.

Mr Milo also said Albania would be prepared to accept the deployment of more Nato troops.

Paskal Milo: Need a long-term solution to the Kosovo question
Nato is already planning to send an 8,000-strong force to Albania to provide humanitarian relief to the flood of refugees.

Mr Milo added that he would like Nato to establish an international protectorate in Kosovo. He said Serbs and ethnic Albanians would be unable to live together peacefully in the current circumstances.

Easter bombs

[ image: The UK is sending extra Harriers]
The UK is sending extra Harriers
Nato warplanes carried out further bombing raids over Yugoslavia on Saturday night.

As Serbs celebrated Orthodox Easter Sunday, the authorities reported bomb and missile attacks on several towns in Kosovo, including the capital, Pristina.

Official Serb media reported explosions in the towns of Pec, Prizren, Urosevac, Kosovo Polje and the old residential part of Djakovica, near the border with Albania.

Missiles were also reported to have smashed into the airport outside Pristina.

Stephen Gibbs: "Nato says its air campaign is working"
Local sources also said that three missiles destroyed family houses in a largely Serb suburb on the outskirts of the city, with a number of civilians injuries.

Explosions were also reported near the central Serbian town of Kraljevo, 75 miles south of Belgrade.

(Click here for map of latest strikes)

Reinforcements on their way

[ image:  ]
The US and UK have signalled a possible intensification of Nato strikes with the announcement of additional military hardware.

The US said it would send 82 warplanes and the UK announced the deployment of an additional aircraft carrier, HMS Invincible, and two support ships.

The UK Ministry of Defence said sending Invincible was part of "tightening the screw" on the Serbs.

But Foreign Secretary Robin Cook repeated on Sunday that Nato was not contemplating a ground invasion of Kosovo, which he said would lead to far more Allied casualties.

More expulsions

Elsewhere, a convoy of 75 Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia is reported to have been detained by a dispute over fuel tankers.

That followed the settling of an earlier row over whether some of the trucks were military vehicles.

[ image: Refugee expulsions resumed on Friday night]
Refugee expulsions resumed on Friday night
In Kosovo itself a second wave of refugees was expelled on Saturday night.

International monitors said 3,000-5,000 people were being forced across the border into Albania on Saturday night following 1,500 on Friday.

Hundreds of refugees have also been arriving in Macedonia, although at one crossing point, the Yugoslav authorities turned back a line of vehicles that eyewitnesses said stretched for miles.

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