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Friday, April 2, 1999 Published at 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK

Washington 'nervous' says Serbian media

The captured US soldiers as shown on Serbian TV

The Belgrade media said on Friday that Serbia's capture of three American servicemen had thrown the US administration into nervous confusion.

Serbian radio focused on Washington's public handling of the news.

Kosovo: Special Report
"After presenting several versions of how to define the status of the three captured soldiers of its aggressor army, who made an incursion into Yugoslavia and were captured there, the Pentagon finally decided last night that they were prisoners of war," state radio said on Friday.

"The evident confusion was caused by how to define aggression on Yugoslavia."

The state news agency Tanjug also revelled in what it described as Washington's new nervousness.

"The Pentagon boss tried particularly hard not to present a single fact or piece of true information about the capture of the US servicemen, refusing to answer questions as to where they had been captured, what they were doing there, and what the goal of their operation had been," it said.

"The nervous atmosphere in the US Administration was evident in the sharp criticism Cohen directed at the US reporters," it said.

Soldiers 'lost their way'

Tanjug news agency also gave a version of how the soldiers were caputured:

[ image: Serbian TV shows what is describes as damage from Nato strikes]
Serbian TV shows what is describes as damage from Nato strikes
"Residents of the Macedonian border village of Male Katarinovac said they saw the three US soldiers ignore an order to stop by Yugoslav border guards and cross into Yugoslavia," it said.

Macedonia's interior minister, Pavle Trajano, said that according to eyewitnesses the soldiers had been in an undemarcated border area.

"We know of no NATO military activities in that area at the time of the incident," he told Macedonian radio.

"The only thing happening was regular patrolling activities along the border. This was being done between the two border posts, quite far apart from each other, and this area has a large number of natural paths, so it is possible that they just lost their way."

Stark warning on Kosovo

Meanwhile, the Yugoslav armed forces commander in Kosovo issued a stark warning to any Nato ground troops who might attempt to enter the province.

"I convey a message to any aggressor that no one can enter Kosovo without sustaining great losses, and it will be even more difficult to stay there and survive without great losses," General Pavkovic told Serbian RTS Radio.

"We do not want American, English, French soldiers and those of other aggressor armies to die in Kosovo and to leave their bones in Kosovo. The soldiers of many armies have left their bones in Kosovo."

Gen Pavkovic heads the forces responsible for conducting military operations in Kosovo.

BBC Monitoring (, 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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