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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK


Serbian TV shows bruised US soldiers

Serb TV showed footage of a destroyed bridge

The Yugoslav crisis took a new turn on Thursday when Serbian TV showed three battered soldiers dressed in camouflage it said were American servicemen captured on Yugoslav territory.
Kosovo: Special Report

"The Information Service of the Pristina Corps has announced that two US non-commissioned officers, James Stone and Andrew Ramirez, and private Steven Gonzales were captured yesterday, 31st March 1999, on the territory of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia."

"All three belong to a scout company of a US division permanently based in Germany. During their capture, the US soldiers put up resistance," the TV said.

The servicemen, one of whom appears to be badly bruised, are seen speaking into a microphone, but their remarks are inaudible over the reporter's commentary.

Images of destroyed bridge

Serbian TV news bulletins also showed footage of the Marshall Tito bridge over the Danube in the northern Serbian town of Novi Sad, which was destroyed by Nato warplanes in the early hours of Thursday morning.


[ image: US soldiers put up resistance during capture, Serb TV said]
US soldiers put up resistance during capture, Serb TV said
The report begins with shots of Novi Sad at night before an explosion lights up the sky over the river and a loud detonation is heard.

The TV then shows shots of twisted steel girders from the collapsed bridge lying in the Danube before panning over to smashed windows in nearby apartment blocks.

'Fascists of the new world order'

The state news agency Tanjug gave a graphic account of the bombing.

"The detonations gave way to a horrendous picture: the iron construction of the bridge was literally severed from the two pillars, and it crashed into the Danube," it said.

"Minutes before the criminal aggressor forces fired their missiles at the bridge, which is on the old highway linking Novi Sad and Belgrade, several cars and a city bus were approaching the bridge," it continued.

Tanjug added that "thanks to quick action by police who were securing the bridge, all vehicles were turned back, so that a disaster was avoided"

Tanjug also noted that the bridge "destroyed by the fascists of the new world order" was located about 100 meters from a monument to the victims of "a notorious Hungarian fascist raid in southern Backa in 1942, when more than 4,000 Serbs and Jews were slaughtered and their bodies thrown into the Danube" .

Nazi comparisons

Novi Sad Mayor Stevan Vrbaski told the agency that the "brutal blowing up of the bridge ... has shocked and embittered the population of Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina."

He condemned "in the strongest terms the vandalistic action that Nato aggressors' aircraft launched" and noted that the bridge had also been blown up by Nazi troops in 1944.

"By bombing the bridge, the Nato aggressor has confirmed its strategy of annihilating civilian facilities and vital infrastructural links," he said.

'Damage to civilian targets'

Belgrade media also gave prominence to overnight raids on various parts of Kosovo, once again focusing on damage to civilian targets.

Footage of blazing fires and explosions lighting up the night sky accompanied Serbian TV's roundup of the impact of Nato raids on the province.

Tanjug reported the bombing at around 0700 GMT of a water pump in Pec in western Kosovo, noting that it was "situated in the direct vicinity of the Pec Patriarchate," and described how Nato "for the third time, fired missiles 500 meters from the Gracanica Monastery at 2200 hours Wednesday" .

The agency also catalogued bomb and missile damage from attacks on the western Kosovo town of Srbica and the Uzice region of south-western Serbia.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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