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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK


World: Europe

Family's horror at stray Nato bomb



By Jacky Rowland in Kosovo

The Lushi family was settling down to an evening in front of the television at their home in the southern Kosovo town of Urosevac when a piece of cluster bomb landed in their living room.

The bomb injured several members of the family, two seriously, and left a big a crater in the living room floor. The houses of their neighbours were left with broken roofs and shattered windows.

Kosovo: Special Report
The Lushi family joined countless Kosovo Albanians who have fallen victim to stray Nato bombs.

Their story did not make international news bulletins that day - such private tragedies have become routine as Nato's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia continues into its third month.

The people of Kosovo are settling into an uneasy routine of being bombed. Unlike Belgrade where sirens howl several times a day, in Kosovo the quiet is broken only by the ominous drown of Nato bombers overhead - and of course the explosions.


[ image: The Bulgarian capital Sofia was mistakenly hit]
The Bulgarian capital Sofia was mistakenly hit
No need for the air attack warning or the all-clear here - Kosovo is under an almost constant state of alert.

What is most striking for visitors to Kosovo these days are the contrasts and contradictions.

The picture of the province that emerges from the accounts of Kosovo-Albanian refugees arriving in neighbouring Macedonia and Albania is one of total horror. But once inside Kosovo, I discovered pretty quickly that the situation is much more complicated.

Hit list

Sitting in a café on the main street in Pristina, I saw a familiar-looking figure shuffle past the window. Slicked back white hair and thick glasses, it had to be the Kosovo-Albanian independence leader, Adem Demaci.

Sure enough it was. This man who was until February the political representative of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army was still in Pristina, at liberty and talking. If there was a Serbian hit list for Kosovo, one would have imagined him at the top of it.

"I stayed in Kosovo because this was my chance, my historical chance," he said.

The police had been to his home and had arrested some of the staff from his office, but apart from that he was able to move around town freely, to buy vegetables at the open market and stand in line outside the bakery like the rest of Pristina's inhabitants.

But any ideas of Kosovo as a benevolent place were quickly dispelled when I revisited the prison at Istok in north-western Kosovo. I had been there three days earlier to witness the ravages of a Nato bombing raid. The return visit was more sinister.


[ image:  ]
We were taken to one of the lesser-damaged cell blocks. A pile of about 20 corpses, some fresher than others, lay in a sprawled heap. Two of the corpses had their trousers pulled down around their knees.

It was by no means clear how all these people had met their deaths, nor why they were all piled up in a relatively undamaged room.

Another question, unvoiced by journalists taken to the scene, was who were the masked gunmen lurking in the back of the compound.

What were they guarding since the prison had by now been evacuated, and why were they masked if the only remaining inmates were dead?

We left Istok with a strong sense of disquiet. "I never want to come here again," said one of my colleagues, voicing the feelings of us all.



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Internet Links


Kosovo Crisis Centre

Eyewitness accounts of the bombing

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Serbian Ministry of Information

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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