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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Says Horrors Justify Bombing




PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- NATO's supreme commander, General Wesley Clark, greeted by a cheering crowd of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo's capital, said Thursday he believed the horrors being uncovered in Kosovo show the justification of NATO's punishing bombing campaign.


"I think NATO actions were fully justified. What you see here is the magnitude of the horror that required NATO action,'' said Clark, who was accompanied by NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on their first visit to Kosovo.


He was referring to mounting evidence of mass graves and atrocities being uncovered by NATO peacekeepers and Western forensic specialists in the province.


The death toll of hatred also mounted Thursday. A Serb was killed and an ethnic Albanian wounded in a gunbattle when a family of Albanian refugees returned to their Pristina apartment and found it occupied by Serbs. The victims were taken to the capital's main hospital, where their relatives opened fire on each other in a hallway, wounding a guard and a nurse.


Also Thursday, the bodies of three men, including a Serbian professor, were found in the Serb-run economics department at Pristina University. They appeared to have been beaten and then shot, said the dean of the economics department, Milos Simovic. NATO troops were investigating.


NATO troops were holding a man who residents of the village of Slovinia identified as taking part in the April massacre of 43 men and of two women who were raped before being killed.


Solana and Clark, accompanied by NATO's commander in Kosovo, British Lieutenant General Mike Jackson, walked through a bombed-out area of central Pristina, surveying buildings that had collapsed under NATO bombs.


Several hundred ethnic Albanians surrounded them, clapping and chanting "NATO! NATO!''


Despite difficulties that confront NATO troops trying to keep a lid on simmering ethnic tensions, the U.S. general said he was pleased so far with the alliance's peacekeeping mission.


"I think it's going extremely well,'' Clark said. "We're meeting all of our objectives and milestones.''


Solana and Clark later met with both Serbian and ethnic Albanian representatives in Pristina, including Hashim Thaci, political leader of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA.


"He assured me of his commitment to demilitarize,'' Solana said, referring to an agreement signed by the KLA and the peacekeeping force this week. "Of course, we will remain vigilant that this undertaking is respected."


In Pec, Italian peacekeeping troops escorted terrified Serbs as they fled their homes, forced out by ethnic Albanians in retaliation for atrocities committed by Serb forces in recent months.


To the north, angry Yugoslav army reservists brought traffic to a halt in central Serbia for the second day running in growing protests to demand payment of salaries for their time under NATO bombardment on Kosovo front lines.


The United States offered a reward of up to $5 million to anyone providing information leading to the capture of alleged war criminals in Yugoslavia, including President Slobodan Milosevic.


FBI forensic experts began gathering evidence at two sites in the western Kosovo town of Djakovica. The U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, David Scheffer, said their work would be vital to uncovering evidence that Serbs tried to hide or destroy.


He said the Serbian army and the military police "violated so many different laws of war that they were almost the perfect model of how not to conduct warfare.''


On Wednesday, foreign and defense ministers from Britain, France, Italy and Germany inspected mass graves and other sites, seeing evidence of the brutalit y that raged across Kosovo until President Slobodan Milosevic accepted an international peace plan.


In Bonn, Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der nominated a top aide, Bodo Hombach, to become the European Union coordinator for a Balkan stability pact signed by some 30 nations this month.