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Thursday, April 15, 1999 Published at 19:31 GMT 20:31 UK


Serb media accuse Nato of 'brutal crime'

Serb TV said more than 75 people were killed at the scene

Serbia media have accused Nato of "carnage" and "horrendous crime" for the bombiong of a convoy of Kosovo refugees on Wednesday.

The reports on state-controlled television said that the alliance had deliberately attacked what it described as civilians "returning home".

Kosovo: Special Report
Serbian TV brodcasts showed close-ups of mangled tractors and trailors, still burning after Wednesday's bombing. Viewers could see charred body parts as well as seriously wounded people in hospital.

The extensive footage was shown repeatedly, mostly without comment. Local witnesses, some of them in tears, described the bombing, which Nato said was a "tragic accident".

The TV showed Serb police at the scene, examining craters and wreckage. It said the convoy of "several thousand Albanian refugees trying to get back to their homes" was "hit three times by a Nato plane" on the Prizren-Djakovica road.


[ image: Homes were ruined after another bomb exploded]
Homes were ruined after another bomb exploded
"More than 75 people were killed at the spot, and more than 20 injured," the report said.

"Obviously refugees were attacked intentionally, because even the pilot could see from the far distance the convoy was a civilian one and refugees could not be mistaken for soldiers.

"In an attempt to prevent Albanians getting back to their homes, Nato has created another carnage in order to justify further military action.

The convoy was hit three times from one plane, showing the obvious purpose - that Nato is trying to create a situation that should justify aggression," the TV said.

'Deliberate attack'

In a statement quoted on state television, Serbian President Milan Milutinovic described the bombing as a "horrendous massacre".


[ image: Mr Milutinovic called the bombing
Mr Milutinovic called the bombing "the most horrendous masssacre"
"The Nato alliance has shown its most brutal face," he said.

"It cannot be explained as an error when the columns of refugees were bombed four times.

"This was done deliberately," he said.

"For the most horrendous massacre of the late 20th century committed in Serbia and Kosovo, those who ordered this horrendous massacre of innocent civilians will answer to the tribunal of all mankind," Mr Milutinovic said.

The Belgrade-based independent news agency, Beta, said that Nato's air raids against targets in Yugoslavia had become "much more intense" in the past week.

But it added: "Belgrade is not yet showing any signs that it is ready to accept the deployment of international forces in Kosovo, or sign the agreement on resolving the crisis in the province in the form in which it was offered at the Paris negotiations".


[ image: The wounded were carried away in wheelbarrows]
The wounded were carried away in wheelbarrows
The bombing of bridges, fuel depots, oil refineries, and factories had "increased fears and apathy among the population", Beta said.

It had also "enabled the authorities to convince the public without much effort that the Nato intervention is due to a desire to conquer the country, and not to attempts to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo.

"The Yugoslav and Serbian authorities, which over the past years have had serious difficulties in securing majority backing of the population, have no such worries at the moment," the commentary continued.

"In short, the authorities have no major problems at home and their position with the voters and general population is much better now than before the attack."

Rations

Beta also said the Belgrade authorities were managing to keep essential services running in Yugoslavia. Supplies of basic food and other items were satisfactory, the news agency said, and although petrol had been rationed at 40 litres per vehicle per month, it could still be found at petrol stations.

However such conditions would "unavoidably change" if the attacks persist for a month or two.

"In that event, the state would probably have to switch to a rationed distribution of basic articles ... and restrict consumption in all areas," Beta said.

The Serbian media maintained their silence about the refugee exodus from Kosovo to neighbouring Macedonia and Albania.

Growing tension

But the Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug said there was heightened tension between Kosovo Albanians and Macedonians in the west Macedonian town of Tetovo.

"The Macedonian residents of Tetovo have announced that they will have to leave their homes under the pressure of Albanians," Tanjug said.

It said tensions flared after a local football match between Skondija - supported by Albanians - and Teteks, supported by Macedonians.

"Police had to intervene to prevent an all-out brawl between the Teteks and Skondija supporters, but the Albanians attacked several passers-by, Macedonians, causing them bodily harm," Tanjug said.

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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