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  • Balkans Special Report

  •   NATO Hits Convoy in Kosovo

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999; 2:00 p.m. EDT

    BRUSSELS, April 14 NATO military sources on Wednesday confirmed that NATO warplanes attacked vehicles on the Prizren-Djakovica road in Kosovo but said it was too soon to comment on Serb charges that 70 refugees were killed.

    "I can confirm there was an air attack on a military target on the Prizren-Djakovica road," a NATO military source told Reuters.

    Cockpit video of the attack on the vehicles would be analysed as soon as the planes returned to their NATO base, he said.

    "I would not jump to any conclusions until we've had a chance to make an assessment," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said. "Reserve judgment until we have the facts."

    Serbian official media said a convoy of about 100 vehicles, including tractors and cars, carrying several thousand ethnic Albanian civilians was attacked from the air on the highway.

    "There were two separate attacks," a Serb official in Pristina said.

    "In one in the village of Zrze, six people were killed and 11 wounded. In another one, in the village of Meja, 64 people were killed and 20 wounded including three Serb policemen who were escorting the convoy."

    No independent confirmation was immediately available. Serb officials said they were taking a cameraman to the scene.

    NATO says it is making every effort to avoid killing civilians and causing damage to non-military sites during its air strikes on Yugoslavia.

    In aerial pictures from Kosovo shown at media briefings, civilian cars and tractor-trailer rigs are discernible.

    Kosovo Albanian sources said they suspected Serb forces were using refugees as human shields to protect their convoys from NATO attack, and may even have loaded dead bodies into trucks under green military canvas.

    On Tuesday, NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark expressed his deep regrets for a NATO missile attack on a bridge used for resupplying Yugoslav forces. A passenger train was hit in the attack.

    Clark said when the pilot saw the train move onto the bridge it was already too late to hold fire, and when he came around to fire another missile into the far end of the structure the train had slid along the tracks into his aiming point and was hit again.

    © Copyright 1999 Reuters

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