Telegraph (London) - 30 April 1999
Civilian dies as strategic airport is 'destroyed' By Caroline Davies in Podgorica
NATO SAYS SORRY AFTER MISSILE HITS SOFIA
TWO powerful explosions rocked Podgorica yesterday as Nato appeared to continue the bombardment of Montenegro which began on Wednesday and is said to have claimed the first civilian life in the tiny Yugoslav republic.
At least 30 strikes were launched on Yugoslav army installations in waves of bombings over 24 hours. Golubovci military airport three miles from the centre of Podgorica, was "practically destroyed" in 15 minutes as bombs dropped at the rate of "one a minute", according to residents.
A 61-year-old woman, Paska Juncaj, died after being hit on the back of the head by a bomblet from a cluster bomb in a village near the airport, according to eye-witnesses. One villager said: "She was running from her village with her son, and just dropped down dead on the spot." Three other people were injured, one seriously, and two houses virtually destroyed in the attack on Wednesday. It appeared yesterday that Nato had returned to finish the job when two explosions were heard from the airport shortly before 10am. Nato says Golubovci is a base from which the Yugoslav military can threaten its operations in Albania.
The bombings, which included attacks on unknown targets in Podgorica's suburbs as well as other areas in the country, are the most severe Montenegro has sustained since the Kosovo conflict began. They provided pro-Serb Montenegrins with ammunition with which to attack their reformist and pro-Western president, Milo Djukanovic, increasing the fear of a coup.
Mr Djukanovic, who was elected on an anti-Milosevic ticket, has been walking a tightrope since Nato's Serb offensive began. He is trying to hold together a divided country of 600,000, some of whom are loyal to Serbia, its sister republic . Pro-Serb women marched through Podgorica yesterday with target posters pinned to their chest, carrying brooms and chanting: "Sweep out Djukanovic."
As the Montenegrin-based Yugoslav 2nd Army, boosted by reservists drafted in from Serbia, continued its power struggle with the government, information about the extent of the targets hit was not officially released. Military authorities prevented the government from issuing any details. Foreign journalists were prevented from visiting the scenes of the bombings.
Dragisa Burzan, the deputy Prime Minister, pleaded with Nato to spare the republic as much as possible. He said: "This is really inflicting some damage on us although I am sure only military targets are being picked."
While the government has rejected Serbia's declaration of war, it has also decried Nato bombing of Serbia.
Vojin Djukanovic, minister for the economy, yesterday dismissed Nato claims that 10 tankers a day were off-loading oil at the port of Bar, focus of a new oil embargo against Yugoslavia. He said that only nine tankers had off-loaded there during the 37 days of the conflict.