Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missiles Hit Hospital, Serbs Say Belgrade Assails Deadly Attack

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missiles Hit Hospital, Serbs Say Belgrade Assails Deadly Attack

Article excerpt

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- NATO missiles killed at least 16 people when they smashed into a hospital and a retirement home yesterday in Yugoslavia, Serb officials said, amid growing concern about civilian casualties from the alliance's bombing campaign.

The alliance acknowledged striking a military barracks and an ammunition storage area in the area around Surdulica, 220 miles southeast of Belgrade, but would not confirm hitting the civilian sites and the reports of casualties.

Condemning the "murdering of civilians" in Serbia, President Slobodan Milosevic said the latest attacks endangered fragile peace efforts, which continue this week with talks with the Finnish president. Russia's Balkans envoy also announced plans to meet again this week with Milosevic.

The Yugoslav government reiterated that it accepts principles set forth by the Group of Eight major powers for ending the Kosovo conflict. But Milosevic's latest statement still fell short of Western demands for the makeup of a peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

Alliance officials insisted there will be "no negotiations" with Belgrade, which they said must halt the violence in Kosovo, withdraw its forces from the province and allow NATO troops into Kosovo to police the peace for ethnic Albanians.

In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Michael Hammer expressed skepticism that Milosevic is serious about peace. "Everybody's wondering whether we're on the edge of a breakthrough," Hammer said. "I think it's a bit premature."

The European Union also demanded yesterday that Milosevic translate his words into action and show an "unambiguous and verifiable" commitment to a Western plan for Kosovo.

NATO, despite being put on the defensive again over its targeting practices, pressed ahead with its escalated air campaign. In Kosovo, U.S. A-10 "Warthog" jets struck Serb forces clashing with ethnic Albanian rebels in the hills along the Albanian border.

Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital, suffered another blackout yesterday evening shortly after air-raid sirens signaled a new round of NATO attacks. …

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