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Sunday, April 25, 1999 Published at 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK


World: Europe

Nato pounds Serbs

More strikes: 600 sorties flown in 24 hours

Nato's bombing campaign in Serbia entered its second month with a night of the most intense and sustained bombardment since the conflict began.

Kosovo: Special Report
Nato jets have flown 600 sorties over the last 24 hours, attacking a total of 200 targets in Serbia and Kosovo, according to Sunday's UK Ministry of Defence briefing.

The UK's Vice-Chief of Defence, Sir Peter Abbot, said it was also the heaviest day so far for British Harriers, which flew 20 sorties during Saturday night.

The Serbian authorities say 50 missiles hit Kosovo's provincial capital, Pristina and the surrounding area, in six hours of raids.

Local officials said the damage was immense.

(Click here to see a map of last night's Nato strikes)


The BBC's Paul Royall: Serbian TV was again knocked off air
According to the state news agency, the southern industrial capital, Nis was also hit hard for a second night running.

Seven sets of attacks have inflicted heavy damage on the town, destroying chemical plants and industrial zones.


Serb TV: Back on air (Poor quality)
The local media reported smoke rising from an unspecified target in the centre of the city.

Yugoslav's state television channel RTS went off air for the second time, after Nato bombs reportedly targeted an electrical transformer station at Mount Avala, south of Belgrade.


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However, the station resumed satellite broadcasts at 1152 GMT.

The state news agency says six more bodies have been recovered from the rubble of their Belgrade studios, bringing the death toll there to 20.

With Nato determined to maintain the pressure on Serbia, the organisation's Supreme Commander in Europe, General Wesley Clark, flew to Albania on Sunday.

He met some of the 5,000 US soldiers based at the military airport outside the capital, Tirana.

The troops are supporting US Apache attack helicopters, which Nato's Secretary-General, Javier Solana, has said could go into action this week.

General Clark has reportedly requested Washington to double the number of Apaches to 48.

Oil interception plans


Mike WIlliams reports on the bombing from Belgrade
Nato's political leaders are due to end the organisation's 50th anniversary summit in Washington on Sunday with reinforced commitment to intensifiying the military assault on Yugoslavia.

also
Analysis:
Commemoration not celebration
Rude awakening for new members
History:
Alliance's Cold War roots
Fast facts:
Nato: Who, what, why
A stepped-up air campaign will be backed by plans to intercept the delivery of oil, arms and other vital supplies by sea, despite opposition from Moscow.

In response to warnings from Russia that it would ignore a shipping stop-and-search policy, Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana said contacts with Moscow would be "intensified".

But according to the UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, both Russian and Nato naval forces will "take good care" that a confrontation does not happen.

"Any Russian flow is likely to go down the Black Sea and through the Danube, " said Mr Cook in an interview on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

Before the crisis in Kosovo, Serbia had to import 54,000 barrels of oil a day, mainly from Russia and Greece.

The US-based oil giant Texaco said it recently shipped 65,000 barrels of oil from its British refinery to Bar under a prior contract, but would now halt all such shipments.

Serb atrocities reported

Fresh reports are emerging of atrocities being carried out by Serbian forces in Kosovo.

A spokesman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said ethnic Albanian refugees arriving at the main Macedonian border crossing of Blace had described a number of mass executions.

The refugees reported 56 people being killed in three villages about a week ago, with some bodies being desecrated.

They said several women had been raped before being murdered.

UNHCR officials estimate that 2,000 refugees from Kosovo crossed into Macedonia at Blace on Saturday.

Ecological disaster warning

The Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic has warned the United Nations that the bombing is causing an ecological disaster.

In a message to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, Mr Jovanovic said the destruction of chemical, oil and pharmaceutical installations had released huge quantities of hazardous substances.

He also complained at the use of depleted uranium in some Nato bombs, which had been linked to leukaemia and birth defects.

Mr Jovanovic said people's lives were at risk, as well as long term pollution of the air and soil, and urged Mr Annan to act.


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