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Sunday, April 4, 1999 Published at 00:41 GMT 01:41 UK

Belgrade media anger after bombing

The Interior Ministry in flames

The Serbian media broadcast dramatic footage mixed with strong rhetoric after overnight Nato cruise missile strikes pounded central Belgrade, destroying key republican and federal centres.

Speaking to Serbian TV, Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic drew parallels with Nazi Germany's World War II bombardment of the city.

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"In April 1941, Hitler's Nazis bombed Belgrade. Here we are now in 1999, also in April, and Clinton's and Nato's neo-Nazis are again bombing Belgrade.

"They have harmed themselves and the entire civilized world. I can say that this was an act by monsters, criminals, and nothing else," the minister said.

'Villain Nato alliance'

He said that the gutted building had been an architectural jewel, not just in Belgrade, but in the entire Balkan region.

"We will build a new building. We will protect the people, protect our state. We stand united. We and our successors will build even better buildings than these that the Nazis are trying to destroy," he vowed.

[ image: The Interior Ministry building smoulders after the attack]
The Interior Ministry building smoulders after the attack
A similar tone was struck by Serbian TV's English-language news bulletin, broadcast by satellite across Europe.

"Tonight, at about one o' clock, the enemy aviation hit the heart of Belgrade. Aggressors of the villain Nato alliance hit civilian objects in the centre of Belgrade, in Knez Milos Street," a female announcer said, over footage of the blazing Interior Ministry building.

The TV showed scores of young people in Belgrade joining hands across the city's main Branko bridge, wearing large " target" signs around their necks and chanting pro-Serb slogans.

'Act of vandalism'

The report added that one of the missiles fell just 20 metres from Belgrade's Gynaecological and Obstetric Clinic, near the targeted government building.

Footage of evacuated mothers and babies was shown, and the clinic's director, Spasoje Petkovic, reassured viewers of the well-being of the maternity clinic's charges.

"We would like to inform their families not to worry about them. They are all safe and well. We have seen yet another act of vandalism.

"We did not believe that anything like this could happen. They knew that the Balkans' greatest maternity hospital was situated here," Petkovic said, adding that "the fire almost reached the clinic".

"Luckily, we evacuated all our babies and their mothers and all other patients. They are safe now."

'Irretrievable loss'

Large amounts of exceptionally valuable archives stored in one of the bombed government buildings were destroyed in "Nato's criminal attack" , the state news agency Tanjug said.

Director of Yugoslav Archives Jovan Popovic said: "This is an irretrievable loss for everyone: Yugoslavia, the former Yugoslav republics, the world, science, culture and humanity."

"Nato's insane bombing last night is a slap in the face to the Council of International Archives, UNSECO, the Council of Europe and all those devoted to archive work, culture, and science," he added.

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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