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11 Civilians Are Killed in NATO Attack

April 7, 1999

Bombs ‘Short of Target,’ Allied Spokesman Says
by Guy Dinmore
Special to The Washington Post Wednesday, April 7, 1999

ALEKSINAC, Yugoslavia, April 6—At least three NATO bombs missed their targets and struck this central Serbian town Monday night, killing at least 11 civilians, injuring more than 30 others and destroying homes, an ice cream factory and an animal feed plant.

It was the worst single report of civilian casualties since NATO airstrikes began March 24.

Scores of buildings in the town, including a 24-hour first-aid center, had windows, walls and doors blown out by the blasts. Glass still covered the streets this morning. Residents of the town, which is about 100 miles south of Belgrade, reacted with horror and outrage. “NATO is waging a coward’s war,” shouted one
soldier, waving his knife at the sky. “Let them come and fight on the ground.”

[Early Wednesday, the official Tanjug news agency said the industrial zone
in the central Serbian city of Nis was attacked. Serbian TV said NATO
wiped out a residential area in central Pristina, the provincial capital of
Kosovo.

“Undoubtedly there are dead and injured,” Serb TV said but gave no
further details. There was no independent confirmation of the report.]

On Tuesday morning in Aleksinac, bodies lay crushed under piles of rubble
and flattened cars in the town center. Seven houses on one street were
demolished. Residents said seven people were killed on the street,
including one child.

On another street a few hundred yards away, four houses resembled a
demolition site. Dragan Miladinovic, 67, his wife, Dragica, and their
40-year-old daughter, Snezana, were buried dead in the wreckage.
Children’s toys and schoolbooks poked out of the rubble.

Another bomb struck an ice cream factory and an animal feed plant in
another section of town, killing a night watchman.

Although residents said they knew of 11 dead, state media said that at
least 12 people had been killed and that more bodies might be buried.
Police and residents said more than 30 civilians were injured.

In Brussels, NATO spokesman David Wilby acknowledged that at least
one bomb “fell short of the target,” which he said was the headquarters of
the Yugoslav army’s 203rd Mixed Artillery Brigade.

“Whatever the reason, any unintended damage to civilian property or loss
of life is very much regretted,” Wilby said.

More than half a mile from the town center stands what may have been
NATO’s target — an abandoned army barracks complex. It already had
been partially destroyed. Another bomb carved out a crater next to
Serbia’s main north-south highway that runs past Aleksinac.

Kosovka Simonovic, 69, was drinking coffee in her kitchen when she
heard what sounded like aircraft. “I stood in the doorway for protection,
then the house fell apart,” she said.

Zorica Lukavic lost both her parents in the attack. “My mother lived all her
life in that house,” she said, pointing to a mound of gray dust and debris
before breaking down in tears.

“I was a 16-year-old when I joined the partisans in the fight against the
Germans,” said Petronje Milovanovic as he rode past on his bicycle.

“Clinton and Albright are whores. They can’t scare us. I’m ready to fight
again. Send my regards to Clinton,” he shouted as he cycled on.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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