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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK

World: Europe

Bombed Serb TV back on air

Overnight strikes bombed the Serbian TV headquarters

Kosovo: Special Report
Serbian state televison went off the air for several hours overnight after a Nato missile hit its headquarters in central Belgrade.

A number of bodies have been pulled from the ruins and Yugoslav officials said at least 9 people were killed.

The TV station resumed broadcasting six hours later and showed pictures of the damaged building.

Jim Fish reports: Watch how Nato took Serb TV off air
The BBC's John Simpson, who visited the scene, said at least five bodies had been removed from the rubble and the destruction inside the television station was considerable.

"Offices are full of shattered glass, papers are blowing everywhere and video tape is fluttering from the branches of the trees outside the broken windows," he said.

John Simpson: The body of a make-up artist was lying in a dressing room
The main television station was knocked off air as it was playing a recorded interview with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. At least 100 people were thought to be in the building at the time.

(Click here for a map showing latest strikes)

Yugoslav media reported that several major television relay stations around the country had also been attacked. Belgrade residents said that they had been plunged into darkness after a reported strike on the Kanaervo Brdo power station.

State-run news agency Tanjug said Nato planes had attacked targets around the city of Novi Sad, as well as bridges and telecommunications targets in central Serbia.

Cool response to Serb plan

The attack occurred as Nato leaders were gathering in the US to mark the alliance's 50th birthday.

Nato cautiously welcomed news from Russia that the Yugoslav leader had agreed on the need for an "international presence" in Kosovo.

Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, who held talks with President Milosevic on Thursday, said Belgrade was ready to accept an international presence under the control of the United Nations. But he gave no details on the nature of that presence, nor whether it would be an armed force.

[ image: Paramedics took the injured to hospital]
Paramedics took the injured to hospital
Mr Milosevic has until now refused to accept foreign troops on Yugoslav territory.

Speaking after returning to Moscow, Mr Chernomyrdin on Friday said he was ready to meet Nato leaders as soon as Saturday to negotiate an end to the Kosovo conflict.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair gave his first reaction to the latest moves for peace from Belgrade on Friday, saying that air strikes would be stepped up until Nato's demands were fully met.

[ image:  ]
"It may be an indication of changes in Milosevic's position but we just don't know enough about the details of this yet. In any event, the Nato demands are clear and they have to be met," he told BBC Radio.

US President Bill Clinton said if the report was true, it was the first acknowledgement by President Milosevic that there would have to be an international security force in Kosovo.

Such a force should contain troops from other Slavic nations such as Ukraine and Russia, he added.

But a statement from President Milosevic's office after the meeting with Mr Chernomyrdin made no mention of any international force and gave no indication the Yugoslav leader had softened his hard-line stance.

Aid package

As Russia and Yugoslavia apparently searched for a way to resolve the Kosovo conflict, there were calls from Nato for a massive aid package to rebuild the Balkans once the crisis is over.

Tony Blair: "This is a just war"
Mr Blair told an audience in Chicago: "We need a new Marshall Plan for Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia too, if it turns to democracy."

His comments coincided with reports on Friday that Nato is devising a $15bn aid package to ensure stability in the Balkans.

The Times cited German sources which said the money would be handled by an institution modelled on the agency which managed the Marshall Plan after World War II.

Food reaches refugees

Relief aid has finally been allowed to a group of 1,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees stranded in the mountain village of Malina on the Macedonia border.

Macedonian police had refused to allow food, water or blankets to be delivered to the village because they said aid workers would have to pass through a 50m stretch of Serbian territory.

Relief agencies described conditions in the village as medieval, with up to 100 people crammed into every house.

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