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Monday, May 3, 1999 Published at 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK


World: Europe

Nato bombs cut Serb power

The dome of the Yugoslav parliament is moonlit after the strikes

Nato air raids knocked out the electricity supply to most of Yugoslavia overnight. It was seven hours before power returned to central Belgrade.

Kosovo: Special Report
The attacks came at the end of the day when President Milosevic released three US soldiers, who had been held in Yugoslavia since the beginning of April.

Russia's special envoy for the Balkans, Viktor Chernomyrdin, is going to Washington for a meeting with President Bill Clinton, following a telephone conversation between Mr Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.


The BBC's Kevin Connolly: Hopes for diplomatic movement rest with Viktor Chernomyrdin
Reverend Jesse Jackson, who arranged the three soldiers' release, had called for a "night of peace" in response to the Yugoslav move to release them.

He said he hoped Washington would take a risk for peace and reconciliation, and avoid what he called a bloody, expensive, long and disastrous war.

Nato has made clear the military campaign will continue unless Belgrade is willing to meet the conditions Nato has laid down


Fergal Keane at the Morina border crossing: "One of the crimes of the century is being perpetrated"
While the attempts to find a diplomatic end to the crisis continue, so does the exodus of thousands of Kosovo Albanians.

At the Morina crossing into Albania there have been fresh reports of Serb police telling refugees to go home to act as human shields. Some were told to return to Prizren and "face Nato's bombs".

Blackout

Electricity was restored to most of the Yugoslav capital Belgrade at dawn on Monday. Hospitals, water supply services, and bakeries all had power once more.


Michael Williams reports from a darkened Belgrade
Officials appealed to people to use as little electricity as possible to prevent the supply becoming overloaded.

Nato war planes had hit a major power plant at Obenovac 30km (20 miles) west of Belgrade.

Serb officials said the weapons exploded above their targets, spraying graphite, which conducts electricity, on key switching equipment, short-circuiting the systems.

The official Serb news agency, Tanjug, said the central Serbian town of Kraljevo was bombed early on Monday.

(Click here to see a map of recent Nato strikes)

Earlier, Tanjug reported the western town of Valjevo was bombed, with a piping factory and residential areas being hit, wounding three people.

Three operating theatres at Valjevo hospital were reported to have been damaged.

On Sunday, Nato said it had lost two planes deployed in the region. An F-16 crashed over western Serbia during a raid, and a US Harrier crashed into the Adriatic during a training mission.


Diplomatic Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley: "No let up in Nato's campaign"
Both pilots were rescued, Nato denied the F-16 was shot down, as reported by Serbian media, saying it had suffered engine failure.

Nato also admitted killing dozens of civilians in an attack on Saturday when aircraft fired at a bridge in Luzane in Kosovo.

The civilians had been riding in a bus which was crossing the bridge as the bombs landed. Nato said the bus had crossed the bridge after the weapons had been released.

Five civilians were also killed by Nato bombs in villages in Montenegro close to the border with Kosovo.

Released


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The three US soldiers released by President Milosevic after the intervention of Reverend Jesse Jackson, are in Germany undergoing medical checks and a military debriefing.

Relatives and friends of the soldiers are expected to arrive at the Ramstein base for an emotional reunion on Monday. The men said that they were not mistreated during their time in captivity.

President Bill Clinton said: "As we welcome our soldiers home, our thoughts also turn to the over one million Kosovars who are unable to go home."


Parminder Sandhu: "A hero's welcome for the three soldiers in Germany"
Staff Sergeant Christopher Stone, Staff Sergeant Andrew Ramirez, and Specialist Corporal Steven Gonzales were driven to Zagreb, in Croatia, from where they flew to Germany.

Rev Jackson said he hoped the soldiers' release would bring a diplomatic response, not just a military one.

Mr Clinton is expected to see Rev Jackson who is carrying a letter to him from President Slobodan Milosevic on Monday


Michael Williams reports from a darkened Belgrade
The letter is said to propose a face-to-face meeting between the two presidents.

Meanwhile, a US Congressional delegation says it has secured agreement with a team of senior Russian lawmakers and an adviser to President Milosevic on a framework for resolving the Kosovo crisis.

Congressman Curt Weldon says the plan complies with Nato's conditions for stopping Operation Allied Force but also takes into account Russian and Serbian concerns.

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