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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Admits Bomb Hit Residential Belgrade




BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- NATO blasted military and industrial targets in a wave of airstrikes early on Orthodox Good Friday and acknowledged some civilian damage in Kosovo's capital, Pristina. As night fell, air raid sirens sounded anew in Belgrade.


Aid workers in Macedonia and Albania, meanwhile, struggled to cope with the half-million-strong refugee exodus from Kosovo, and tensions spiked along Yugoslavia's borders with Albania and Macedonia.


In a running clash along Albania's northern frontier, Yugoslav forces fired heavy machine guns at fighters from the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, international monitors said. And Macedonia reported its forces had fired into Yugoslavia after a Macedonian solder was shot dead on the border Thursday.


Western leaders, meanwhile, pointed to what they said were airstrike successes against Serb police and army units on the ground in Kosovo, which are blamed for many of the alleged atrocities against the province's ethnic Albanians.


Continued pounding by NATO warplanes and missiles was blamed by the speaker of Cyprus' parliament Friday for the failure of his bid towin the release of three U.S. soldiers being held in Yugoslavia.


Yugoslavia has kept up a drumbeat of angry complaints over what it says are widespread civilian casualties as a result of the bombings. In a turnabout, NATO acknowledged Friday that earlier this week, one of its bombs from an attack on the main telephone exchange in Pristina fell short of its target, causing damage to a residential area.


"Despite our very best efforts it appears that on this attack one bomb may have caused some collateral damage,'' Air Commodore David Wilby told reporters at NATO headquarters Friday.


In a briefing on Thursday, Wilby had said allied bombing was not responsible for the widespread damage in Pristina, saying the damage was probably orchestrated by the Serbs.


As NATO strikes entered their 17th day, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, appeared to have solved the mystery of the 10,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees who went missing Wednesday, saying they had been located in Macedonia and neighboring Albania.


Canada's immigration minister said UNHCR head Sadako Ogata had decided the agency would not need Western nations to take in Kosovo refugees in an airlift at this time, but this could not immediately be confirmed.


Britain said more grim reports of atrocities by Yugoslav forces were emerging from Kosovo, including accounts of dead refugees' bodies being burned and buried by the truckload.


The defense chief of staff, General Charles Guthrie, said there had been a mass killing of 35 people in one village. Another report spoke of four truckloads of bodies being buried and one truckload burned, he said.


Serbian state television said 124 workers had been injured, 10 of them seriously, when six missiles hit a car and small arms factory in the central town of Kragujevac.


Workers at the plant, Serbia's biggest employer, had earlier organized a human shield to deter NATO bombing.


Allied attacks late Thursday and early Friday targeted other military-industrial plants, fuel depots and communications facilities. A hit on Jugopetrol storage depot at Smederevo, 30 kilometers east of Belgrade, ignited an enormous fireball. Dense black smoke engulfed nearby vineyards and fruit orchards in spring bloom.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Yugoslavia to stop all action by military and paramilitary forces and withdraw them from Kosovo.


NATO allies have insisted the bombing campaign will continue until Milosevic withdraws Serb special police and Yugoslav army units sent to Kosovo as part of the crackdown.


The allies also say Milosevic must also allow all ethnic Albanian refugees to return home and accept a peace plan calling for 28,000 NATO-led troops to enforce a peace plan.


NATO's top general said Friday it would be "very, very difficult'' for the West to impose peace in Kosovo without sending in ground troops. General Klaus Naumann said deployment inside the province was a "theoretical possibility'' but refused to speculate on what the alliance would decide.