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  •   NATO Won't Release Korisa Evidence

    NATO was attacking a Serb military command post when its warplanes struck the nearby village of Korisa. (AP)
    By Steven Pearlstein
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Friday, May 21, 1999; Page A26

    BRUSSELS, May 20 – When NATO precision-guided bombs killed scores of ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo town of Korisa, alliance spokesmen blamed the deaths on Yugoslav authorities, claiming they had used the refugees as "human shields" by forcing them to spend the night next to a military command post and artillery bunker.

    But a week after the embarrassing mishap, NATO's military command announced today that it will not release surveillance photographs and summaries of intercepted radio transmissions to back up its claim that the site was a "legitimate military target."

    "Everything that's going to be released on that has been released," said Capt. Steven Warren, a spokesman for Gen. Wesley K. Clark, NATO's military commander.

    The Yugoslav government said 87 refugees were killed, making the attack the deadliest NATO assault of the war in civilian casualties. The victims were part of a group of several hundred refugees who had been hiding in the Kosovo hills for 10 days.

    After the bombing, several members of the group said they had been directed by Serbian police to spend the night at an agricultural cooperative. Contrary to the assertion of military spokesmen here and at the Pentagon, however, the refugees said they saw no signs that the compound was being used as a local military or police command center. Nor did they report seeing any of the artillery pieces that NATO claimed were destroyed in the attack.

    A Washington Post reporter who visited the scene and talked to survivors a day after the attack also reported seeing no evidence of a recent military presence or bombed military equipment.

    NATO spokesmen have suggested Yugoslav authorities removed military equipment from the scene before Western reporters arrived.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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