Slobodan Markovic on Tue, 1 Jun 1999 23:37:35 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Injured reporter from inside Kosovo

Injured in Nato raid, Eve-Ann Prentice
reports from inside Kosovo


The bomb exploded a few yards in front and to the left of
me. That was the moment I thought I was dead.

I heard a phenomenal noise and thought it was the last
thing I would hear on Earth. I was thrown to the ground,
and was amazed when the thick grey-black smoke
cleared to discover that I was still alive.

We were deep in southwest Kosovo near the front line
heading for Prizren, not far from the Albanian and
Macedonian borders. There had been two cars with five
journalists and two drivers, one of whom was also the
translator. When we had first reached a road tunnel about
four miles from Prizren it was obvious it had recently
been bombed. There was rubble all over the road, which
was impassable. We decided to abandon the car,
clamber over the rubble and make our way by foot into

We spent about three hours in Prizren. When we hitched
a lift back to the tunnel we found there were two of them
side by side, about 30 yards apart. But both were

They seemed to be normal mountain road tunnels. But
they were a newly strategic target because they were the
last relatively safe route for the Yugoslav Army to travel
from Pristina and other cities to the border region.

We had just started making our way back across the
rubble on foot when the sound of jets, which had been
fairly constant, suddenly screeched far louder. At that
moment we all just knew we were going to be bombed.
We had nowhere to run; nowhere to hide.

The remains of the nearest tunnel looked a death trap
because of the danger of it falling in on top of us. The
nearby riverbank was far too exposed. The burnt-out
wreckage of a military vehicle was still smouldering in the

Then the first bomb hit.

We all scattered. Almost immediately came the sound of
another jet diving. By this time, three of us had run into
the opening of the nearest tunnel. Most of us were
shouting and screaming - trying to find the safest place to
go. There was simply nowhere.

Then the second bomb hit and that was the moment I
thought I was dead. When I recovered, I crawled to my
feet and a Portuguese radio journalist shouted to me to
run towards the second tunnel.

Then came the sound of yet another jet. At the same
instant I saw the wreckage of one of our cars. It was
flattened. The last time we had seen it, the
driver/interpreter, Nebojsha Radojevic, had been inside.
The Portuguese and I scrambled into the undergrowth
and found a water culvert about six feet in diameter. We
began to crawl in, when the unrelenting whine of another
impending bombardment pierced the air. My colleague
wanted to go deep in the culvert. I was afraid of being
buried alive.

We compromised and hid by the entrance. The sound of
four explosions was hideously menacing. It seemed then
as if the attack would never stop. We called to the others
in our party but there was no sight or sound if them. We
decided to stay put for at least half an hour after silence
finally descended. After about 20 minutes, we heard a
car close by.

Seconds later, two enormous Yugoslav Army soldiers
popped their heads over the edge of the culvert, held out
their hands and scooped me up. One smiled a big grin
and hugged me like a father. Almost carrying me, they
shepherded me to their vehicle, where all but one of our
party was already ensconced. We could not find

Nenad Golubovic, the other driver and hero of the hour
for his coolness under fire, set off to investigate while the
rest of us were driven to a nearby village. Serbs and
Muslims paraded out of their homes and swarmed over
us, proffering sweet drinks, chairs and life-giving

Then I noticed that this display of hospitality was
occurring 2ft away from a road bridge - one of Nato's
key targets. Two of us begged that we should find
somewhere else to congregate. An army doctor then
ushered us into two cars and we were driven several
miles up to what appeared to be a sleepy village - but
was, in fact, an army base.

What followed was one of the oddest moments of my
life. We were given some of the most royal treatment I
have ever experienced - and that includes tea at the
House of Lords. In this bizarre world, minutes after being
almost killed by Nato, we were being pampered, and
calmed and fed by the very people the alliance is trying to

Platters of beef, bread and cheese were spread for us.
The doctor tended our light injuries, and dozens of troops
spent the entire night calming our nerves. All the time,
Nato jets streaking relentlessly low across the village. It
was only then that there was time to take stock of my
injuries. They were miraculously light - cuts and grazes to
my legs, right arm and forehead. About an hour after we
arrived in the village, a soldier who had gone to
investigate the damage to the tunnel returned. He brought
the news that Nebojsha was dead. The troops brought
his relatively unmarked corpse back to the village for his
best friend Nenad to prepare him for his eventual burial.

We also discovered that one of our party, a Portuguese
television cameraman, had been separated from us during
the last bombing run. He had plunged into the river and
was carried by the mountain current for about a mile and
a half - still clutching his camera. He managed to drag
himself to the bank outside a monastery, but was initially
arrested on suspicion of being a downed pilot. His
documents eventually persuaded the authorities of his real
identity. Then he had a terrifying four-hour journey across
mountain tracks to reach Pristina and rejoin us. He came
under constant fire from the Kosovo Liberation Army as
it tried to ambush his police escort.

Also slightly wounded in the bombing were a Portuguese
television reporter, Elsa Marujo, and Daniel Schiffer, the
French philospher who organised our trip. He had injured
his arm, leg and nose.

Last night we made another terrifying journey along
sniper-racked roads said to be infested by the KLA and
where dozens of Serbs have been shot in the past ten
days. We prepared to sleep in the Grand Hotel in

Today I try to get out of this land. At least I can attempt
to leave. The horror of the attack has made me realise
even more how desperate is the plight of the people in
Kosovo, caught between Nato's screaming devils and the
KLA's daunting deep-blue sea.

Nato said that one aircraft had attacked a tunnel near the
road where the journalists were wounded but denied
attacking vehicles. A spokesman, said the alliance
admired western journalists who were determined to
report from Kosovo, but it could not guarantee their

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