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Yugoslavia: NATO Says Raids Against Serbs Continuing

Brussels/Belgrade, 6 April 1999 (RFE/RL) - British Air Commodore David Wilby said alliance air raids against Serbian field forces in Kosovo are continuing today. At a NATO briefing in Brussels, Wilby admitted that despite yesterday's good weather, NATO jets were not very successful at hitting Serbian forces in Kosovo. He added that alliance forces yesterday struck a military facility at Aleksinac in Serbia. Wilby said it was possible one weapon fell short of the target due to a technical failure. Serbian television reported five civilian deaths in the raid. But Wilby noted that weapon trajectory could have been affected by anti-aircraft fire. He and NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said any loss of civilian life was very much regretted. Also at today's briefing, Shea said the majority of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population of 1.8 million has now been displaced from their homes by Serb forces. He said the evidence of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo by the Serbs is being meticulously documented for later prosecution. Shea said many ethnic Albanian men of military age have systematically disappeared. He said the alliance does not know their exact number, but said they range from tens of thousands up to 100,000.

Shea warned Serbia against any attack against Albania. And he said NATO is doing its utmost to help care for the refugees who have streamed into Albania and Macedonia.

Meanwhile, the Yugoslav and Serbian governments, in separate statements today, announced a unilateral ceasefire in Kosovo starting tonight. The Serbian and Yugoslav authorities said the ceasefire is to mark the Orthodox Easter. In London, a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair called it a diplomatic ploy. In Washington, a White House spokesman said the United States has made it clear that what it considers half-measures will not stop the NATO air campaign.