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Yugoslavia: NATO Says Serbian Forces Consolidating In Kosovo


Brussels, 9 April 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO says Serbian forces are consolidating in Kosovo and that there is no evidence yet of Serbian troop withdrawals. Air Commodore David Wilby told reporters in Brussels that Serbian forces are digging in and building up forces in Kosovo. Wilby said NATO is continuing its air bombardment of military targets in Yugoslavia but that bad weather is again hampering activities. Wilby also said Kosovo's capital, Pristina, was hit by a NATO bomb aimed at the city's telephone exchange, but he said any collateral damage was limited in scope. He denied earlier Serbian reports that the NATO bombing has caused widespread damage in the city.

Serbian state television is reporting today that a NATO air attack overnight in the city of Kragujevac has left more than 100 people injured. Serbian media report at least seven missiles hit the city, south of Belgrade, overnight.

NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said headquarters for an 8,000-strong NATO force to be deployed in Albania will be established a week from today. The deployment of the force is intended to help with the influx of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, said today that the Kosovo refugee situation in Albania and Macedonia will be under control in a matter of days.

Ogata made the pledge at a news conference in Skopje during a visit to Macedonia. She earlier toured a refugee transit camp housing 30,000 people at Stenkovec.

Ogata said she remains gravely concerned about the fate of thousands of refugees who were apparently herded back into Kosovo over the last few days by Serbian forces. She said there is nothing she can do for them in Kosovo. Ogata said it is one of the UNHCR's highest priorities to return the Kosovars to their homes once it is safe to do so.

U.S. President Bill Clinton said today the NATO alliance remains united in its resolve and will prevail over Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Meanwhile, Russia has denied that President Boris Yeltsin has issued an order to target strategic missiles against NATO countries bombing Yugoslavia.
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