NATO warplanes have taken off from bases in Italy at the start of a second night of attacks on Yugoslav targets. Air-raid sirens have been sounded in Belgrade and the Kosovo capital, Pristina. President Clinton has made it clear that the air-strikes will continue until President Slobodan Milosevic complies with a peace plan for Kosovo. Mr. Clinton said the aim was to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and a wider war in the Balkans.
NATO has claimed that three Yugoslav fighters were shot down in combat last night. The Secretary General, Javier Solana, said that the ultimate goal of the operation was to destroy Yugoslav forces if Belgrade does not accept the Kosovo peace plan worked out in France. He said there had so far not been a positive response from President Milosevic.
Yugoslavia is gearing itself up for another wave of air-strikes, and appears to be preparing for a prolonged campaign. Belgrade has declared wartime emergency measures under which ordinary laws can be set aside. The US and British defence secretaries have said there will be further attacks later today. The British Defence Secretary George Robertson said that the attacks would continue unless President Milosevic stopped his repression of the Kosovo Albanians. Mr Robertson told a news conference this morning that there was a clear justification for military action.
Assessment of last night's damage is continuing; NATO continues to deny Yugoslav reports that two of its aircraft were lost. There has been some confusion within Yugoslavia about casualty figures. A Yugoslav minister said ten civilians had been killed, while 60 others were wounded. The state news agency reported that the casualties were civilian.
The NATO air-strikes were reported to have resumed in Yugoslavia. The country's independent television station said that tremors have been felt in South Belgrade. It also reported that a military airport in the Northwest had been hit by a NATO air strike. An eyewitness at the television building said that she could see smoke rising from the area. NATO has said that it is unable to confirm the reports of fresh air strikes.
Local radio stations say there have been numerous bombardments. A pharmaceutical company west of Belgrade is in flames and an aeronautical factory in Utva in the north east of Yugoslavia has also been struck. The attacks follow the sounding of air raid sirens in Belgrade and elsewhere. Air-raid sirens began sounding again in Belgrade and in the southern city of Nis this morning.
The first series of NATO air-strikes were suspended shortly before dawn today (Yugoslavia time) after 10 hours of attacks were launched in retaliation for Serb refusals to sign a Kosovo peace plan. Belgrade said that 20 sites were targeted in the first wave of attacks, yesterday evening, but that its air defences were still working.
The bombing, which began shortly after seven o'clock last night, continued into the early hours of this morning. Up to a hundred cruise missiles, fired from war ships and from B52 bombers, struck what NATO described as military targets in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. These included air defence systems, radar stations, army bases and factories. Serbia has said that there have been an unspecified number of civilian casualties and claimed that one NATO aircraft had been shot down. However, this claim has been denied by NATO. Thirteen hours after the action began it appears the initial attacks were more intensive than expected.
NATO missiles struck targets in the Serb capital, Belgrade, including a big military base in the suburb of Battienica. Industrial targets in the northern city of Novi Sad were struck and explosions were heard in and around Kosovo's provincial capital, Pristina. In a bid to protect NATO aircraft, missiles also hit air defence targets at Podgorica in Montenegro, Serbia's reluctant partner in the Yugoslav federation.