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Yugoslavia: Bombing To Intensify; Chernomyrdin To Meet Clinton

Prague, 3 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO officials said today that the alliance plans to intensify its bombing campaign of Yugoslavia following the latest raids, which have struck an ever-widening list of targets. Yugoslav reports said that NATO hit another civilian bus today, near Pec, killing at least 10 people. There is no independent confirmation. Russian special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin is to meet U.S. President Bill Clinton tonight in Washington to discuss ways to end the conflict. In Moscow, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said it is still premature to talk of any positive signs. Germany said today it has evidence that 300,000 more displaced people are on the move in Kosovo, many of whom are surviving under extreme conditions in mountain valleys.

A British military spokesman said that in the past 24 hours NATO warplanes have struck ammunition and fuel stores, army and special police barracks, tanks and artillery, and Serb defensive positions, and other targets. He said as more operational resources become available, the campaign will intensify.

NATO also hit power distribution systems across Yugoslavia. A NATO spokesman in Brussels said the fact that the lights went out across 70 percent of Yugoslavia shows NATO has "its finger on the light switch." He said this capacity can be used to degrade the operations of the Yugoslav armed forces. NATO said that one of its aircraft, an A-10, was hit by groundfire, but managed to return to base.

An Associated Press reporter said he was shown damage to civilian areas in the town of Valjevo, purportedly caused by NATO bombs. Yugoslav officials said at least 14 people were hurt.

In Macedonia, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on a one-day visit to Skopje, assured Macedonians today that Kosovar refugees will not stay in their country. Speaking on Macedonian television, Blair said that NATO is determined to get the refugees back to their homes in Kosovo. He also thanked Macedonians for taking in some 200,000 refugees so far.

NATO said that it will start building camps in Albania to accomodate 60,000 of the Kosovo refugees now in Macedonia. Macedonia's government has repeatedly said it worries that the large numbers of displaced Kosovars it has accepted will upset the ethnic balance of the country.

Germany said today it has evidence that 300,000 more displaced people are on the move in Kosovo, many of whom are surviving under extreme conditions in mountain valleys. German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said German unmanned surveillance aircraft had detected the refugee movement and warned it meant the number of refugees crossing into Albania and Macedonia is bound to grow in coming weeks.

About 15,000 ethnic Albanians were expelled to Macedonia overnight and this morning aboard two Serbian trains. UNHCR spokeswoman Paula Ghedini said in Macedonia that the night train was the first since Serb military and police forces began expelling ethnic Albanians in huge numbers from Kosovo a month ago.

Meanwhile, three U.S. soldiers held captive in Yugoslavia for nearly a month passed preliminary medical exams in Germany today and began reuniting with their families, who were flown from the United States to see them.

Romania today gave permission to NATO to use airports at its territory for operations against Yugoslavia. The Romanian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the permission followed a vote in parliament last month that had granted NATO air access without any restrictions and for an unlimited period of time.