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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3 Die in Belgrade Hospital Bombing




BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- NATO jets pounded Belgrade and its suburbs early Thursday, hitting a hospital and killing at least three people. The residences of the Swedish and Spanish ambassadors were also slightly damaged in the attack.


Spain, a member of the 19-nation NATO, said in Madrid that the residence had "external damage," and no one was hurt. Sweden, which is not a NATO member, complained and said the alliance is using overly powerful explosives bombing a big city.


The strikes were the strongest in Belgrade since the Chinese Embassy was hit May 7 - killing three people and injuring 20 - in what NATO said was a mistaken attack. They came hours after President Slobodan Milosevic accepted principles of a Kosovo peace plan but demanded that details be negotiated directly with the United Nations.


Following the departure of Russia's envoy to the Balkans, Viktor Chernomyrdin, late Wednesday, three strong detonations were heard in the plush Belgrade district of Dedinje, where Milosevic lives and works. The neighborhood also includes a large military barracks with a major hospital nearby.


Yugoslavia's state-run Tanjug news agency said an operating room in the hospital was demolished and that rescuers were evacuating infants and pregnant women from the maternity ward. Witnesses said the hospital's neurological building was directly hit and an intensive care unit was leveled.


In Brussels, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea acknowledged that one of its laser-guided bombs went astray over the capital and struck a building about 450 meters away from its intended target. But he said he had no details about what was hit and the damage caused.


Reporters who were allowed to visit Dr. Dragisa Misovic Hospital in Dedinje said one missile struck the middle of the neurological ward and another landed beside it, destroying a wall and leaving a crater that was filling up with sewage.


The neurological building was reduced to little more than a concrete frame. Its tile roof was blown off, and wisps of smoke rose from the scene.


In the basement of the main hospital building, patients evacuated from other floors crowded the corridors, some huddled and sitting because of lack of space.


Associated Press Television News footage showed two corpses in the hospital morgue - a woman's body, her head caked in blood and half her right arm missing, and a man's body, with both head and face covered with blood.


Hospital director Milovan Bojic, a Serbian deputy prime minister and Milosevic's close political ally, called the attack "a savagery and unheard-of scandal." Moma Jakovljevic, a doctor at the hospital, confirmed that at least three patients were killed and several other people, including medical staff, were injured.


Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Lennart Larsson said he received a call from Stockholm's ambassador to Belgrade, Mats Staffansson, who told him some windows were smashed and a door blew up at the residence located about 200 meters from the hospital. No one was injured in the house.


The damage to the residence underlines the need for a political settlement to end the nearly two-month-old war, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said.


"I think it is unacceptable to use such powerful explosives when you are precision-bombing in a big city, as that can have this type of humanitarian effect as we see at the hospital and the Swedish ambassador's residence," she told Swedish Radio.


Witnesses said the nearby army complex was also hit in the attack, and several military vehicles were seen burning in its yard.


Early Thursday, jets flew low over the city, striking two other neighborhoods at the edge of the capital.


U.S. government analysts have matched a videotape of massacred Kosovo Albanians with aerial imagery of the village where NATO reported mass graves last month, the State Department said.


The matching, based on the position of trees, fields, buildings and fresh graves, adds to the evidence that Serbian forces have carried out war crimes during a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, department spokesman James Rubin said Wednesday in Washington.


It also showed that Yugoslav denials of atrocities in Kosovo are not credible, he said.


The videotape, extracts of which CNN broadcast Friday, shows scores of dead bodies, allegedly at the site of the massacre in Izbica, and their subsequent burial nearby on a site previously identified by NATO as a new burial ground. Kosovo journalist Liri Losci, who made the video, told CNN that 127 ethnic Albanians, all of them men, were killed in the massacre in Izbica on March 28.


On April 17, NATO released pictures taken from the air of what it said were about 150 newly dug graves at Izbica, alongside pictures of the same site five weeks earlier.


Serbian state television said it sent reporters to Izbica but found no mounds where the graves should have been.


Belgrade has also disputed the credibility of Losci's tape. Federal Minister Goran Matic told CNN last week that it was "another example of Western media manipulation by Kosovo Albanians."


Rubin said: "When they [the Serbs] tell you this is fabrication, they are lying. We have every reason to believe that the video is at the very same location on the map where our imagery took place."