NATO hits new targets as U.S. increases fire power
'We regret any loss of life' in train attack
April 13, 1999
BELGRADE (CNN) -- NATO warplanes struck oil refineries, a fuel depot, bridges and a factory in pre-dawn raids over Yugoslavia Tuesday and bombed targets near the Kosovo capital of Pristina, Serbian TV reported.
In Washington, Pentagon sources told CNN the United States will soon be sending in several hundred additional warplanes that will increase the size of the NATO aerial attack force to nearly 1,000 planes.
The Pentagon also confirmed that NATO missiles hit a train in a rural area about 200 miles southeast of Belgrade Monday. Serbian officials said the attack killed at least 10 people on the train and injured 16 others.
The overnight strikes reported by Serb TV as the NATO offensive entered its third week targeted:
--Oil refineries in Pancevo (PAN-cha-voh) and Novi Sad, both hit in other recent attacks.
--A fuel depot east of Sambor, further north of Belgrade.
--A factory in the central Serbian town of Cacak south of Belgrade.
--Two bridges, one described as old, the other as new, in Krusevac where a factory and central heating plant were hit in overnight raids Monday that resulted in injuries. No casualties were reported in the latest attack.
No detail was provided of the strikes near Pristina.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov Tuesday, to discuss the crisis over Kosovo, in an attempt to improve recently strained relations between the two countries.
Clinton administration and NATO officials held to the line that there is no plan to introduce ground forces to the 20-day-old campaign at this time, but congressional leaders said the option should not be ruled out.
Mary Robinson, the United Nation's High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a press briefing in Geneva that Yugoslav President must be held accountable for the "gross human rights violations" being alleged by Kosovar Albanian refugees who have fled to Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.
"We are deeply concerned about those who have been required to return from the borders back into Kosovo and about whom we cannot find first-hand information," Robinson said. "That was a cause of really grave concern."
The train was on a railroad bridge hit by America's newest and most accurate missiles -- the video-guided AGM-130, fired by a U.S. F-15E, Pentagon sources said.
"We regret any loss of life that this may have caused because our policy remains to minimize collateral damage," said NATO spokesman Jamie Shea.
The attack occurred as NATO ministers met to express unity and resolved to press the bombing campaign. British Defense Minister George Robertson promised round-the-clock bombardment of the Serbs and Yugoslav military and industrial targets.
CNN Correspondent Brent Sadler, who went to Grdelicka where two bridges span a small river, said the rail bridge was heavily damaged. Two of the train cars fell off the bridge into the ravine below, Sadler said.
He said one of the bodies pulled from the wreckage was that of a child.
Serb authorities said around 11:40 a.m. Belgrade time the train had stopped after a missile hit the bridge, cutting electric power. They said a second missile hit two cars setting them on fire and plunging them into a canyon.
The train had originated in Belgrade and was hit south of Leskovac, about 30 miles from Nis (Neeche), Yugoslavia's thiird latest city.
Yugoslav Foreign Ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic said the bridge was not used for military activity.
In Washington, the pressure for ground forces intensified, but Defense Secretary William Cohen told U.S. servicemen and women in Barksdale, La., that "Any consideration for ground troops is something for the future and we do not believe it is necessary."
Top congressional leaders met late in the day at the White House with President Clinton and said afterwards ground troops -- an option considered by NATO last fall but tabled -- should not be ruled out as a future step.
"I don't think we should preclude anything at this point, but at this time the president has indicated and I believe that the intent is to go forward with the air campaign that's under way," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) told reporters.
"I think we should see how things go and see what the recommendations are."
At the ministers meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said NATO's top priority is that Kosovo refugees be allowed to return to their homes, and that will require the withdrawal of Yugoslav Army and paramilitary police forces.
"I think the most important concern we should have at this moment is the return of the refugees. That should be the most important commitment that the international community should have at this point ... In order to achieve that ... there is no question the forces will have to be withdrawn," said Solana.
NATO has backed autonomy for Kosovo within Yugoslavia. Asked how Kosovo could be considered a Serb state if the troops were withdrawn, Solana said he did not know what kind of plan might be negotated at the end but in the interim, Serb forces would have to withdraw and an international force deployed for the refugees to return.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the NATO ministers have informally discussed an "international protective status" for Kosovo. She said she did not favor partition.
Solana said the 19 NATO ministers had reaffirmed their commitment to go forward with the air campaign. Milosevic "is losing and he knows he is losing," said Solana.
Before dawn Monday, NATO pilots hit an oil refinery, a facility where surface to air missiles are produced and stored, a heating plant, and again hit a factory that produces the Yugo car which NATO said has manufactured armaments.
CNN's Alessio Vinci in Belgrade said the factory manager told him that 14 missiles hit the car factory in Kragujevac - the first seven within 20 seconds.
After a warning from Serb authorities, all the workers were evacuated.
But 38,000 workers are now jobless, the factory manager said. He also said that, despite differing reports, 95 percent of production was devoted to civilian work.
Pentagon sources said NATO launched 757 attacks against 155 targets in Yugoslavia in the first 20 days of the campaign, which have cut the army off from its supplies and support and is beginning to affect its morale.
NATO says all Yugoslavia's refineries have been hit and 70 percent of its petroleum stocks have been destroyed.
"NATO's military action will be pursued until President Milosevic accedes to the demands of the international community," the NATO foreign ministers said in a statement released at their talks in in Brussels.
Yugoslav train hit during NATO strike; 10 dead
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.