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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK


'Refugees return home' - Serb media

Two TV channels went off air after the Usce building was bombed

Serbian TV on Thursday accused Nato of bombing numerous residential areas and refugee centres as well as civilian infrastructure targets such as bridges and TV transmitters throughout Yugoslavia.

Kosovo: Special Report
It also claimed that the Yugoslav authorities were helping ethnic Albanians return to their homes in Kosovo.

The TV reported a Nato raid on the residence of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in the Dedinje suburb of Belgrade, and showed a building largely reduced to rubble, with close-ups of what appeared to be missile fragments.

In the latest raids, the Krusik industrial plant in Valjevo was devastated and telecommunications facilities also suffered severe damage, the TV reported. The raids cut broadcasts to the northern province of Vojvodina by three national TV channels, it said.

'Nato pollution drives away refugees'

The state news agency Tanjug said about 80,000 people had been evacuated from the town of Pancevo near Belgrade because of air pollution caused by Nato raids on the oil refinery there.

The toxic chemicals released included chlorine, mercury, phosgene, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and ammonia, Tanjug said.

In its roundup on damage to civilian buildings, the TV said at least 10 people were killed when Nato bombed a refugee centre near Djakovica in southwestern Kosovo, where Serb refugees from Croatia were living.

"The whole settlement was burned down," it added.

Groups of ethnic Albanians had returned to their homes in Kosovo after fleeing the Nato bombing, the TV said, showing brief interviews with some of them.

More than 20,000 ethnic Albanians returned to the Podujevo area north of the Kosovo capital Pristina, "because the government guaranteed them full safety," the TV said.

Members of the Kosovo Interim Executive Council brought the refugees " necessary humanitarian aid," the TV said.

"Whom does the bombing benefit? No-one," one of the Albanians was quoted as saying.

'Albanians want to live in Serbia'

"Albanians in this part of Kosmet [Kosovo and Metohija] say they still want to live in Serbia, in which they say they have every right, just the same as any other national community," the TV reporter said.

"Despite the constant bombing of Kosovo and Metohija by the Nato war machine, there are more and more Albanians who accept the call of Serbia and Yugoslavia to come back to their homes, from which they fled when the aggression started," the reporter added.

Several hundred Albanians who headed home from the border area were met near Istok, northwestern Kosovo, the TV said. "

The Kosmet Interim Council tried to help them with food, water and medical assistance," the TV said. It showed crowds of refugees, some of them holding loaves of bread.

"The whole world should be with us, they should respect us, not attack us," another Albanian was quoted as saying. "The bombing damages Yugoslavia - Albanians and Serbs."

'Yugoslav army still functioning'

In a commentary, the independent Belgrade-based news agency Beta said that "despite the wide-scale destruction over the past month, Nato has failed to achieve a single one of its declared military objectives" .

"All vital systems of the Yugoslav army are still functioning, the air defence system has been preserved, communications between various army commands are operational, and there is no deficiency of soldiers," Beta said.

"Also, the army does not have any problems with the morale of its members because - with strong support from state media - a widespread conviction exists among the population that the acceptance of the international community's demands would represent capitulation, to be followed by occupation.

"In Kosovo, Nato has intensified air strikes on the units on the ground, but there is no reliable data on the effects of these attacks. The Yugoslav army claims that its units are offering effective resistance and are well prepared for a possible ground attack.

"Although the Nato command comes forward with data on the destroyed barracks, tanks, fuel depots, and other military facilities, from these reports it cannot be gathered with certainty whether the combat strength of the Yugoslav army units in the province has indeed been weakened and to what an extent," Beta said.

Referring to Yugoslavia's determination to defend its territory from Nato attack, Beta quoted an interview given by Milosevic to the Slovak newspaper Praca, published on 20th April.

Asked whether Yugoslavia was prepared to face a Nato ground intervention, Milosevic said "Of course, we are expecting it" .

"Nato soldiers will find themselves within our firing range. This is when we will defeat them. Many will perish. As soon as they come, we'll begin to defend ourselves and kill them. Today, much like half a century ago, our strength lies in the fact that we are fighting in our own territory with an enemy that has come from afar to take away our freedom," Milosevic 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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