Andrea Szekeres on Tue, 30 Mar 1999 02:37:51 +0200

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Syndicate: Re: !!!ExEcUtions!!! Washington Post 29th March

NATO Airstrikes Enter 6th Day

                   By George Jahn
                   Associated Press Writer
                   Monday, March 29, 1999; 1:21 p.m. EST 

                   BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) --
                   NATO bombs pounded Yugoslavia
                   for a sixth day as thousands of ethnic
                   Albanians fearing Serb paramilitary
                   forces streamed out of Kosovo today
                   in what may be Europe's worst
                   humanitarian disaster since World War

                   One-quarter of Kosovo's populace has
                   now been made homeless since
                   Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic
                   launched the Kosovo crackdown 13
                   months ago. 

                   An ethnic Albanian leader, Fehmi
                   Agani, was executed Sunday, NATO
                   said. Agani, a close aide to ethnic
                   Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova and
                   one of the negotiators at the failed
                   Rambouillet peace talks, had just
                   attended the funeral of a human rights

                   Four other prominent ethnic Albanians
                   were also reported executed, NATO said in what it called
a ``scorched
                   earth policy'' -- including Baton Haxhiu, editor in
chief of the
                   Albanian-language newspaper in Kosovo's capital
Pristina, Koha Ditore. 

                   The newspaper's publisher, Veton Surroi, and Rugova both
have gone
                   into hiding in fear of their lives, NATO officials

                   NATO said refugees were arriving at the Albanian border
at the rate of
                   4,000 an hour today, straining the already desperate
resources of one of
                   Europe's poorest countries. 

                   ``We are trying to stop this catastrophe and stop this
killing,'' NATO
                   Secretary-General Javier Solana said. 

                   The Albanian prime minister appealed today to his
countrymen to take in
                   the refugees, most of whom were carrying their only
possessions by hand. 

                   People forced across the border are being stripped of
identity papers,
                   even their car license plates, in an apparent effort to
make it impossible for
                   them to return. 

                   ``It's almost as if their identities are being canceled
out,'' NATO
                   spokesman Jamie Shea said today at a news briefing in
Brussels, Belgium.

                   Some 80,000-100,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees have
arrived in
                   northern Albania, more than double the rate of a few
days earlier, the
                   U.N. relief agency said today. Thousands more headed
west to
                   Montenegro and southeast to Macedonia. 

                   ``Are you American?'' Nejmije Kelmendi, 50, asked an
Associated Press
                   photographer as she trudged up a steep mountain road
near Pec in
                   southwestern Kosovo, accompanied by her two daughters.
``Tell NATO
                   that Pec is burning, and where are the ground troops?'' 

                   NATO seemed to back up the accounts of destruction,
saying today that
                   Pec was ``substantially destroyed.'' 

                   Yugoslav officials remained defiant, saying NATO's
``shameful'' attacks
                   were only inflaming the crisis in Kosovo, where ethnic
Albanian rebels
                   have been fighting for independence. 

                   More than 2,000 people have died and a half-million
others been made
                   homeless since the clashes began in Kosovo last year. 

                   NATO's assault is aimed at getting Milosevic to accept a
peace plan that
                   calls for 28,000 troops in Kosovo, including 4,000

                   Asked today whether the NATO mission was succeeding,
Shea said:
                   ``Yes, we are being effective. Yes, the mission is

                   White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said President
Clinton remains
                   opposed to using ground troops to supplement the
airstrikes, despite
                   growing calls for him to do so. 

                   Meanwhile, Russia's prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov,
announced plans
                   to go to Belgrade on Tuesday in a new bid to end the
crisis. Russia, which
                   has cultural and historic ties to Serbia, strongly
opposes NATO's air
                   campaign against Yugoslavia. 

                   NATO spokesman Air Commodore David Wilby said the latest
                   attacks were against Serb and Yugoslav units involved in

                   A strikes got under way today, an A-10 ``Warthog''
ground-attack plane
                   was spotted taking off from Aviano Air Base, Italy. The
A-10 is a low-
                   and slow-flying tank-killer aircraft that could be used
to strike Serb
                   ground forces in Kosovo. 

                   Serbian state-run television repeatedly showed video of
a raging fire in the
                   center of Kosovo's capital of Pristina that it said was
set off by a NATO
                   missile attack on a police building. Air raid sirens
went off in Belgrade, the
                   Yugoslav and Serbian capital. 

                   Rather than restraining the Serbs, however, the attacks
appeared only to
                   have intensified their anger at the ethnic Albanians,
who made up 90
                   percent of Kosovo's 2 million people inhabitants before
the Serbian

                   ``The pattern that emerges (from their accounts) is
paramilitary forces
                   arriving, rounding people up and telling them at
gunpoint to go,'' said
                   spokesman Kris Janowsky of the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees.
                   ``So we are seeing officially sanctioned ethnic
cleansing of the Albanian
                   population in Kosovo.'' 

                   Refugees said Serbs wearing black masks forced them out
at gunpoint. In
                   Bonn, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said
today that
                   authorities had verified accounts of atrocities. 

                   Yugoslav authorities closed at least one crossing point
into Albania for
                   several hours today, erecting concrete barriers along
the main road from
                   the Kosovo city of Prizren to the Albania town of Kukes.
It was unclear if
                   other crossing points were also sealed. 

                   Along Kosovo's border with Yugoslavia's smaller republic of
                   Montenegro, thousands of Kosovo Albanians were trying to
cross today.
                   Police were charging $60 per car to allow refugees to

                   A 24-year-old refugee from the Suva Reka area of
southern Kosovo told
                   a reporter in Albania that when NATO airstrikes began,
Serb police
                   ``came to our village and told us to go to America, go
to NATO and they
                   will help you.'' 

                   Shea said the situation was on the brink of a major
humanitarian disaster,
                   unprecedented since World War II. More than a
half-million Kosovars
                   have been uprooted by the crisis, NATO said -- the
biggest population
                   shift in Europe since 1945. 

                   But Bratislava Morina, the Serb refugee commissioner,
called such
                   accusations propaganda. 

                   ``There is no humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo
whatsoever,'' she said
                   on state-run Serbian television. 

                   Thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees massed in Kukes
today, sleeping

                   in doorways and on sidewalks, wandering aimlessly and
begging for help. 

                   International agencies scrambled to bring aid to the
refugees, but the
                   situation is chaotic. Traumatized refugees swarmed
trucks carrying food. 

                   Belgrade has not announced casualty estimates, although
Yugoslav U.N.
                   envoy Vladislav Jovanovic claimed Friday that hundreds
of civilians had
                   been killed. 

                   Russia's defense minister reported 1,000 civilians dead
but it was
                   impossible under current conditions to independently
confirm any of the
                   casualty figures. 

                   Ramifications from the airstrikes began to widen.
Germany and Italy,
                   which both have Kosovo Albanian immigrant populations,
braced for an
                   influx of refugees. 

                   Demonstrations against NATO action in Yugoslavia tapered
off today,
                   after U.S. missions as far afield as Russia, Australia
and Canada were
                   rocked by protests over the weekend. Less violent
rallies were reported
                   in Romania, Greece and Israel. 

                   Meanwhile, the pilot of the first plane NATO lost in the
assault on
                   Yugoslavia returned to Aviano after being rescued by the

                   The pilot of the F-117A stealth fighter-bomber suffered
cuts but no
                   serious injuries when the plane went down, said U.S. Air
Force Capt.
                   Edward Thomas. 

                   ``He got off the airplane and was greeted by a large
crowd of friends and
                   squadron mates, commanders and subordinates. It was
better than
                   watching the Super Bowl,'' Thomas said. 

                                © Copyright 1999 The Associated Press