Yugoslavia: NATO Hits Train; 9 Die

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-- --- (-@-.-), April 12, 1999


Yugoslavia: NATO Hits Train; 9 Die

By VESELIN TOSHKOV Associated Press Writer

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP)  Yugoslav state media reported a NATO airstrike hit a passenger train in Serbia today, setting it afire and causing casualties. NATO confirmed a rail bridge was struck by allied aircraft and that a train was nearby at the time.

At least nine people were killed and 16 were injured, police told an Associated Press reporter taken to the scene with other journalists by the Yugoslav military.

NATO issued a statement saying it had hit a rail bridge it considered an important military supply line and that ``incoming military reports indicate there was a train on or near the bridge at the time of the strike.''

The statement said the allies have taken ``extraordinary measures to avoid collateral casualties'' during the nearly 3-week-old allied air campaign against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's forces.

``Regrettably, we cannot exclude the possibility of casualties in this instance,'' NATO said.

NATO warplanes bombed Serbia's industrial heartland, hitting an oil refinery and fuel depots, in the campaign to force Milosevic to accept a peace agreement in Kosovo and end the humanitarian crisis in the Balkans.

But Yugoslavia's state news agency reported today that about 150 Kosovo Liberation Army rebels were ``liquidated'' in a battle with Yugoslav forces near the Albanian border. The Tanjug report on the shootout between the outposts of Morina and Kosare could not be independently confirmed.

Tanjug said the attack on the train occurred some 180 miles south of Belgrade and flung several cars off the tracks.

At the scene, a heavy smell of burned flesh hung in the air. Scattered body parts, including arms, could be seen as far as 90 feet from the wrecked train.

Two coaches were on the track and two were off the track, all four smashed and burned. The damaged engine remained on the track. The bridge severely damaged, its rails torn up.

Some of what appeared to be missile parts were mixed with parts of train cars about 150 yards from the main wreckage. Windows were broken in nearby houses.

Authorities and eyewitnesses from the nearby village of Grdelica said the bridge was hit by four missiles. The train had been headed from Belgrade to the town of Ristovac on the Greek border.

``People were moaning, screaming for help,'' Tanjug quoted a rescuer, Dr. Tomislav Cvetanovic, as saying. ``Those unharmed managed to climb out of the smashed train windows.''

Yugoslav officials say 300 civilians have been killed and 3,000 injured during NATO's bombing campaign. There was no way to independently verify the figures.

NATO conducted bombing raids today despite bad weather, returning to sites already hard hit in the air campaign and NATO foreign ministers convened for their first meeting since the airstrikes began March 24.

The allies meting today in Brussels, Belgium, and reaffirmed their commitment to a unified alliance against Milosevic. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the Yugoslav leader is losing and that NATO forces will prevail.

``NATO is not only trying to stop Milosevic's brutality, but to care for his victims,'' Solana said.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said NATO operations will continue until its aims are met, including the withdrawal of Yugoslav and Serb forces from Kosovo, safe return of all refugees and ``democratic self-government'' for the people of Kosovo that ``they have long been denied.''

She said ``as many as 700,000 people are at risk in Kosovo,'' and troubling accounts continue to emerge, including ``many, many reports of atrocities.''

``The reports we hear are chilling,'' President Clinton said today at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

The Tanjug report on the border attacks came a day after mortar fire hit police headquarters and a residential area in the Albanian border town of Tropoja, killing two people and wounding nine, said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors the frontier.

The Yugoslav parliament voted today to join an alliance with Russia and Belarus  an apparent move to try to draw Russia into the fighting. Russia has said it will not get militarily involved.

Russia favors the idea of incorporating Yugoslavia into an alliance that already includes Russia and Belarus, but membership wouldn't be instantaneous and any military aid wouldn't be automatically granted, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters.

The notion of a Slavic union is particularly popular among Russian Communists, who regret the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Throughout its troubled history, Yugoslavia has jealously defended its sovereignty. This is the first time since it was founded in 1918 that it is joining an alliance with foreign nations.

Western officials expressed deepening concern, meanwhile, over the more than half-million ethnic Albanian refugees who have fled or been driven out of Kosovo by Yugoslav forces over the past 20 days.

Hundreds of thousands of others have been forced from their homes and displaced, with about a quarter-million refugees fleeing to tent cities Albania and about half as many to Macedonia.

The NATO alliance acknowledged today that poor weather was still hampering its air campaign. Some aircraft came back from their latest missions carrying bombs. All returned safely, NATO said.

In the industrial town of Pancevo across the Danube River from Belgrade, wind-whipped orange flames leaped into the sky as fire engulfed one of Yugoslavia's biggest oil refineries. NATO has been focusing on fuel depots to cut supplies and prevent the army from redeploying.

The factory that makes Yugo cars  housed in a complex that also makes weapons  was hammered again early today after being badly damaged last week, Tanjug said. The manager of the Zastava complex in Kragujevac, 45 miles southwest of Belgrade, said damage totaled $1 billion.

Nearby Batajnica, site of a military airfield, was also hit, Serb media said.

The latest strikes also targeted Serbia's second-largest city, Novi Sad, where two bridges were destroyed earlier in the air campaign. Tanjug said a missile struck a residential area Sunday, but NATO said there were surface-to-air missile production and storage facilities in the area hit.

In the central Serbian town of Krusevac, a heating plant was destroyed and a heavy-machinery plant  the biggest in the Balkans  was struck, Tanjug said.

-- --- (-@-.-), April 12, 1999.

welcome to the concept of collateral damage...which is the military's way of saying "whoops! how did that get there?!".

*sigh* I'm sure that the guys who hit the bridge aren't happy about what happened...but I wonder about billy jeff.


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), April 12, 1999.

Yes Arlin..Clinton is estatic about the 9 deaths...he loves the sight of blood, pulls wings off flies, has all his associates that disagree with him murdered, punches ugly women in the mouth after he rapes them, orchestrated the Kosovo refugee crisis, etc.

That must be why he's such a good friend of Billy Graham, huh?

-- y2k con (a@b.c), April 12, 1999.

Y2k con:

Billy Graham has a function, which is the one you just used him for: to cloak the nefarious activities of great men, especially presidents, with the odor of sanctity.


-- Dano (bookem@blacksand.srf), April 12, 1999.


Well...I'm not gonna go so far as to call Clinton a "great man"...just a little misguided, and terribly misrepresented.

-- y2k con (a@b.c), April 12, 1999.

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