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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK

World: Europe

Nato: Milosevic not a target

Gutted: President Milosevic's mansion stands in ruins

Nato has denied attempting to kill Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic after destroying his home in the suburbs of Belgrade in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The president was not in the luxury two-storey building, in the exclusive Dedinje area of the capital, when it was struck at about 0400 local time (0200 GMT).

Kosovo: Special Report
As pictures of the gutted mansion appeared on television, Serbian officials said the attack contravened the US law which prohibits the assassination of another country's head of state.

Minister without Portfolio Goran Matic told reporters it was "a criminal act without precedence...against the president of a sovereign state".

The US military denied that Nato had launched a personal attack on President Milosevic, saying that the house was an integral part of the overall military command structure for Yugoslav forces.

Michael Williams reports from Belgrade: Serbs say Milosevic is not so stupid as to stay in such a well-known site
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said: "We are not targeting President Milosevic or the Serb people. We are targeting the military and the military infrastructure that supports the instruments of oppression in Kosovo."

He described the residence as "a command and control system that includes bunkers".

"Much of the military and security forces are run out of a variety of residences, office buildings and office buildings throughout the country, particularly in the Belgrade area. They are all interconnected," he said.

[ image: Socialist Party HQ:
Socialist Party HQ: "A high-value target"
The destruction of the house appears to be the latest attempt in Nato's plan to increasingly concentrate on targets directly associated with President Milosevic.

On Tuesday, the alliance destroyed a 24-storey office block containing the headquarters of his governing Socialist Party.

It was also home to the Yugoslav Left Party led by the president's wife, Mira Markovic, and to radio television channels, including a radio station run by Mr Milosevic's daughter.

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