Five ethnic Albanians killed when vehicle hits land mine
NATO hits refineries; Clinton says NATO trying to end Serb atrocities
April 18, 1999
YUGOSLAV-ALBANIAN BORDER (CNN) -- Five Kosovar Albanian refugees were killed early Sunday when their vehicle hit a land mine twenty meters before crossing the Yugoslav-Albanian border. No more refugees have crossed the Morina, Albania border since that time.
Andrea Angeli, a spokesman for international monitors, told CNN the accident occured on the main road used by ethnic Albanian refugees fleeing Kosovo to neighboring Alabania.
Just before the accident, between midnight Sunday (local time) and the time of the accident -- less than three hours-- some 5,500 refugees passed through the crossing.
It was unclear if the border at Morina remained open following the incident.
Apache helicopters could arrive Sunday
A Pentagon source tells CNN that the first Apache helicopters deployed to the Balkans could start arriving in Albania on Sunday -- but the Pentagon is being deliberately vague about when and how many for security reasons.
The Apaches are low flying attack helicopters which, with the proper ground support, can destroy tanks, troops and other military assets on the ground.
The Pentagon plans to call up 33,000 reserves, mostly air personnel, to increase its capacity in the Balkans. The call-up would be the biggest since the Persian Gulf War.
Refineries burn, Serbian TV says
NATO struck both oil refineries in Yugoslavia overnight, according to Serb television. Serbian television showed pictures of NATO strikes on refineries at Novi Sad and Pancevo. The Novi Sad refinery has been struck at least twice before.
The Pancevo refinery, Serb television said, has been hit four times before and that neither refinery is operating.
A petrochemical plant at Pancevo was also reported hit for the second time.
NATO has said its intention is to deny the Yugoslav Army petroleum, oil and lubricants. The attacks have spawned long lines at gasoline pumps. In Belgrade, CNN was allowed to photograph a string of motorists who waited for hours for the monthly allotment of 10 gallons of gasoline.
In addition, Serb television reported NATO strikes in a number of other areas. At Sremska Mitrovica, Yugoslav forces said they had shot down cruise missiles.
At Batajnica, 12 miles north of Belgrade, Serb television showed pictures of what they said was residential housing hit Saturday night local time. The report said a number of people were wounded including a 3-year-old girl.
Other areas sustaining hits, Serb TV said, include Rakovica, a Belgrade suburb, Pozega, Uzice. There were no reports on what had been hit.
A Jugopetrol warehouse was reportedly hit near Valjevo.
Serbian TV also says 30 missiles hit Pristina starting at 0200 local time. It says many people have been injured, and that great material damage has been done.
Clinton: NATO 'standing strong' against ethnic cleansing
In a letter to the London Sunday Times, U.S. President Bill Clinton said NATO allies are working to end atrocities in Yugoslavia, and are "standing strong" against ethnic cleansing.
The letter, published Sunday, had been solicited by the Times. Clinton said NATO allies "did everything possible to obtain a peaceful solution in Kosovo. Slobodan Milosevic chose conflict" Clinton said.
Clinton said Yugoslav President Milosevic's design is to "rid the land of its inhabitants, once and for all. We could not stand aside and let history forget the Kosovo Albanians," Clinton said.
Clinton said the United States still supports an autonomous Kosovo within Yugoslavia and adds, "The best solution is not the endless shifting of Europe's borders along ethnic lines, but greater integration among European states that work together to make a virtue, not a blood feud, out of diversity.
"Realistically, the realization of this vision will require a democratic transition in Serbia itself, for the region cannot be secure with a belligerent tyrant in its midst."
Clinton said Milosevic can end NATO bombing campaign by agreeing to international demands including a NATO led force to implement a peace agreement in Kosovo.
Clark says Milosevic ordered refugee shelling
In Aviano, Italy, Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme commander, said Saturday that Milosevic had ordered the shelling of ethnic Albanian refugees driven from Kosovo into Albania.
"We've seen a continuing build up of artillery in the western part of Kosovo so he can shell into Albania...he's hitting civilians," said Clark.
Facing renewed questions about a bomb NATO admits hit a civilian vehicle near Djakovica, Clark said an investigation is still ongoing.
Clark said Milosevic was having his troops fire a rocket with a 50 km (30 mile) range at refugees.
"He's firing it, lobbing it, across those mountains, indiscriminately targeting civilians in Albania," Clark said.
Clark also said snipers were firing at Albanian Army troops along the border and "deep" reconnaissance missions by Yugoslav forces had been detected.
Convoy controversy ongoing
NATO admitted last week that one of its pilots "mistakenly" dropped a bomb on civilian vehicle near Djakovica. Since then NATO has turned aside all questions for further information, saying an investigation is continuing.
Yugoslav authorities have charged that NATO attacked a civilian convoy and killed as many as 85 ethnic Albanians.
NATO has never admitted that it is responsible for the deaths and destruction western news crews were allowed to tape in the presence of Serb authorities south of Djakovica, and Clark warned the truth may never be completely clear.
"I have sifted through the continuing reports of the incident and what happened that day I am astonished by the fog and there's no way without having been on the ground to really determine what happened."
Clark, as did the Pentagon, admitted that an audio tape played for reporters was not the pilot of the plane that mistakenly dropped a bomb on a civilian vehicle.
"It was a pilot flying somewhere in the area that day who saw something I thought was incredibly powerful as he described it. I saw the whole video tape and we had a picture of the pilot he was pointing it out on the map. I did not want to release it because we had not finished the investigation," said Clark.
Serb prisoner writes letter home
NATO said a Serb lieutenant captured by the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo and turned over to U.S. forces would be treated under the terms of the Geneva Conventions.
"He has been examined by a doctor. He has been given shelter, food and has access to religious counseling. He has also access to the International Committee of the Red Cross and he will have all the protection and rights accorded by the third Geneva Convention," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said.
The soldier, a lieutenant and a platoon leader, has made contact with the ICRC, said Navy Capt. Michael Doubleday at a Pentagon briefing.
The soldier was allowed to write a letter to his family which was given to the ICRC for delivery, Doubleday said.
New waves of refugees, evidence of mass graves
At the Albanian border, more than 30,000 refugees arrived between mid-Friday and mid-Saturday, relief officials told CNN. The refugees said thousands more displaced Kosovars are behind them.
The refugee flow was also reported to be heavy into Macedonia. One official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said, "This is the beginning of the final push to completely rid Kosovo of its ethnic Albanians.
NATO said there was new evidence of mass graves holding as many as 150 people in west central Kosovo.
"In fact, some refugees have even reported that Kosovar Albanians have been forced to dig these mass graves and put the bodies in," said Shea.
NATO has engaged in a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia for its refusal to comply with an internationally brokered peace agreement. It outlines an autonomy plan for Kosovo, a province in Serbia, the predominant state in the Yugoslav federation.
U.S. holding Yugoslav officer as POW
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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