Blasts shake Belgrade in dawn of third week of airstrikes
April 7, 1999
Pristina a 'ghost town'
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Two explosions shook central Belgrade late Wednesday, marking the start of another wave of air attacks against Yugoslavia.
The blasts sent a huge cloud of white smoke billowing over the Yugoslav capital and shook buildings more than a mile away.
A senior Yugoslav army official told CNN a government building belonging to the Yugoslav army was hit. There were no reports of casualties.
Serbian television also showed pictures of an explosion in Kraljevo, a city in central Yugoslavia, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of the capital.
Hundreds of Belgrade residents rushed to one of the city's main bridges as soon as air raids sounded, swaying to rock music and holding flags, balloons and banners in defiance of the ongoing airstrikes.
Pentagon sources said fighter jets from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt took part in the attacks for a second consecutive night. In addition to F-14s and F-18s, low-flying, tank-killing A-10s also engaged in their first combat missions of the conflict, the Pentagon said.
An unmanned U.S. spy plane was presumed to have been shot down in Yugoslavia on Wednesday, although the evidence is "not conclusive," NATO officials said.
The twin-engine propeller aircraft -- a "Hunter" unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV -- is a pilotless U.S. Army reconnaissance airplane that provides real-time intelligence to commanders on the ground.
One military official told CNN, "This is why we put UAVs in high-risk areas."
In Brussels, NATO claimed success in its military campaign against Yugoslavia, saying it had achieved a "major breakthrough" against Serb ground forces in Kosovo by hitting an armored column involved in the crackdown against ethnic Albanians in the Serb province.
Air Commodore David Wilby of Britain said Tuesday's airstrikes had hit multiple targets at 28 locations, including an armored convoy of seven to 12 armored vehicles.
At a separate news conference on Wednesday, NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Wesley Clark said the military alliance would maintain its "iron grip" and would go after a full array of military forces and "well-concealed" storage depots.
CNN Correspondent Brent Sadler described Kosovo's capital, Pristina, as a "ghost town' Wednesday, after being allowed by Serb authorities to assess some of the devastation there for the first time.
Sadler said there was heavy bombing damage to a postal and telecommunications building in central Pristina and a huge fire at a fuel depot. Sadler's report was monitored by Serb authorities.
Earlier in the day, the Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug reported that at least 10 civilians had been killed and eight others seriously injured in airstrikes in Pristina.
The United States appeared to put more pressure on Yugoslavia Wednesday, with the State Department warning individual Serb commanders they could face war-crimes prosecution for their involvement in the crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said there were no plans to halt the air attacks.
"We are moving into a much more aggressive air campaign," he said in Brussels. "This is no time to pause."
NATO rejects cease-fireNATO's civilian spokesman, Jamie Shea, speaking at the Brussels news conference with Wilby earlier Wednesday, repeated NATO's refusal to abide by Milosevic's unilateral cease-fire announcement, which was made Tuesday.
Shea said NATO would accept nothing less than full Yugoslav compliance with NATO conditions for a Kosovo settlement, which include the return of Kosovo refugees and an interim peace accord monitored by thousands of NATO-led ground troops.
Shea said the Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanians was continuing, with 42,000 expelled on Tuesday. Overall, 912,000 Kosovo Albanians have been displaced in the past year because of the conflict, he added.
The refugee situation in the region improved Wednesday after Macedonia finished emptying the border enclave at Blace, where tens of thousands of Kosovo refugees had been trapped for days in squalid conditions.
Between 25,000 and 30,000 ethnic Albanians were bused overnight to new NATO tent cities at Stenkovec and other locations, where they received hot meals and medical attention.
Meanwhile, Yugoslav authorities on Wednesday reportedly closed the border between Yugoslavia and neighboring Macedonia and Albania.
In Belgrade, a senior Yugoslav official confirmed to CNN that a delegation from Cyprus was expected to discuss the matter.
NATO on Wednesday rejected any conditions that Belgrade might attach to the men's possible release.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, speaking in London, said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was responsible for the Serb economy shrinking by more than half -- an economic situation that stood in stark contrast to Milosevic's personal wealth.
"Tell the people of Serbia how much wealth you have sucked out during the same years they have been impoverished in Serbia," Cook said.
Serbian television said Wednesday that NATO'S rejection of the announced unilateral cease-fire proved NATO's "criminal intentions" to impose foreign "occupation" troops on the country.
Cook described Milosevic's cease-fire announcement as a "sham."
A statement from the Yugoslav army said the armed forces were abiding by the cease-fire, and there was no military activity in the province except NATO attacks.
Government media said the targets included a fuel storage facility at the airport near Pristina, Kosovo's capital; a residential area near the old post office in central Pristina; a fuel depot in the village of Devet Jugovica and unspecified targets in Ajvalija and Gracanica on the outskirts of Pristina.
State television also said a garage and warehouse at an oil refinery in Novi Sad, Serbia's second largest city, were destroyed, and that the industrial zone in the central Serbian city of Nis was attacked.
A group of professors from Belgrade University, mostly members of the neo-Communist Yugoslav Left led by Milosevic's wife, stood on a Belgrade bridge throughout the night to serve as a "human shield" against the NATO attacks.
NATO reports 'breakthrough' against Serb forces
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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