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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Hits Leave Belgrade Powerless

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Most of Belgrade and large parts of Serbia were without electricity Friday after NATO was reported to have attacked two major relay stations in the capital during its heaviest night of raids so far.

Serbian media also reported a series of daylight raids Friday in the Valjevo region west of Belgrade and hits on television transmitters in western Serbia.

The Serbian power grid EPS said NATO had hit two key relay stations used to transmit electricity from the major power plants at Obrenovac, near Belgrade, and Djerdap, near the Romanian border, the Beta news agency reported.

The official Tanjug news agency quoted EPS as saying it had managed to restore power to priority customers such as hospitals and bakeries in the capital by noon.

The national grid reported that NATO attacked Serbia's power system again Friday morning.

NATO said its planes backed by refueling tankers flew nearly 800 missions during the night, setting a new record since the airstrikes began March 24.

Since early May, NATO has been targeting Yugoslavia's power grid, but until recently had mainly used "soft bombs," which explode above power plants and short-circuit systems without causing much damage.

The attack on a relay station in Belgrade's northern Bezanijska Kosa district came Thursday as children were playing outside only 300 meters away on a perfect summer evening, residents said.

Among the casualties of the overnight blackout was Belgrade's main hospital, theEmergency Medical Care Center.

"The only alternative power source is a generator. It doesn't allow us to perform even basic diagnostic analysis," Dr. Vlada Djuric, the head of the center, said in an interview.

Beta said NATO planes fired at least 12 missiles in the Valjevo area, southwest of Belgrade, at about 1 p.m. local time.

Beta said Yugoslav air defense units had brought down an unmanned NATO drone over the Bay of Kotor on the Montenegrin coast at 9:15 a.m.

Meanwhile, further graphic accounts of Serbian atrocities against Kosovo Albanians emerged f testimony likely to stiffen Western resistance to any compromise deal with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, in Belgrade on Friday, may advocate.

A report released in Paris by the International Federation of Human Rights and the Medecins du Monde medical charity, based on interviews with ethnic Albanian refugees, detailed summary executions in front of relatives, rapes and other brutalities.

Yugoslav authorities have denied any atrocities against ethnic Albanians, who they say have fled their homes for fear of NATO bombing.

Thursday's indictment of Milosevic and four of his top lieutenants by a UN war crimes tribunal had no discernible impact on Milosevic's hard-line stance. Serbian state media said he told visiting church leaders Thursday evening that NATO's attacks must stop before negotiations on a settlement can resume.

Serbian opposition leaders and citizens were dismayed by the indictments and seemed to agree with the government that the UN tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, was a tool of NATO politics.

Both politicians and ordinary people seemed baffled as to why the indictments should have been announced at a time when negotiations on a solution to the Kosovo crisis were reported to be making some progress, unless it was to sabotage them.

Some Yugoslav analysts believe the tribunal's decision indicates that key Western governments have decided to go for Milosevic's overthrow by cranking up the pressure on him, seeing his continued rule as a threat to Balkan stability.

In Paris, moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova said rebel Kosovo Liberation Army leaders had failed to meet him for talks.

Rugova, who, like KLA leader Hashim Thaqi, is touring European capitals, said he still hoped for discussions on healing a rift with the KLA that is harming the search for a Kosovo settlement.