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Video
Ian Ferguson reports: "
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Audio
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon answers questions about the downing of the plane
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Audio
Mark Devenport reports from Washington
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Video
Excerpt from Belgrade's RTS report on "downed" plane (in Serbian)
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Mark Laity: There will be some surprise if the bomber was shot down
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John Simpson: "For the first time, Nato has attacked Belgrade in the morning"
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Bridget Kendall: New urgency to Nato's campaign
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Nato spokesman Jamie Shea explains the new strategy
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Sunday, 28 March, 1999, 09:38 GMT
Nato loses first plane
wreck
Yugoslav TV showed images of what it said was the Stealth wreckage
Nato has confirmed the loss of its first plane in its campaign against Yugoslavia as the alliance steps up its assault on the country over the Kosovo crisis.

Kosovo: Special Report
Bombing resumed after the pilot of the US F-117 Stealth fighter was rescued, and new explosions were reported on Sunday in Belgrade and south west of the capital.

Amid reports of Kosovo refugees flooding into Albania, and of growing numbers of Serb atrocities on Kosovo Albanians, Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana said the expanded onslaught was needed to bring an end to the violence in the province and "prevent further human catastrophe".

US President Bill Clinton pledged that the air operations would progress as planned despite the downing of the F-117 - the first Stealth jet to be lost in combat.

He also backed Nato's decision to expand Operation Allied Force to include attacks on Yugoslav forces in the field.

"As I have said from the outset, this military operation contained real risk. However, the continued brutality and repression of the Serb forces further underscores the need for Nato forces to persevere."

Serbian television images of the burning wreckage of the downed US fighter were shown for several hours before the Pentagon confirmed the loss.

Spokesman Kenneth Bacon said that the pilot had been rescued after bailing out of the plane before it crashed.

Nato has not yet said what brought the aircraft down, but the Serbs say they shot it down.

Yugoslavia's state-run Tanjug news agency said the plane was downed at 1900 local time (1700GMT) near the village of Budjanovci, 30 miles north west of Belgrade.

The BBC's Washington Correspondent, Mark Devenport, says the Pentagon took some time to respond to the Serbian claims because they were awaiting the outcome of the search and rescue mission for the pilot.

Explosions

Hours after the plane was downed, fresh explosions were reported.

With air raid sirens sounding in Belgrade several times on Sunday, Tanjug said that missiles had struck around the central Serbian town of Cacak, which houses a military factory.

Three large explosions were heard also in Belgrade. The air raid centre there said that Nato was carrying out air strikes on Batajnica, an air force base outside the city that has regularly come under Allied fire.

There were also reports of attacks on military targets in Prizren and Pristina.


tomahawk
Cruise missiles were launched from the Adriatic on day four
Saturday night's bombing had been concentrated on Belgrade itself, with several heavy explosions reported in the capital.

Nato forces were authorised to move into the second phase of their military campaign and attack a broader range of targets in Yugoslavia in light of reports of atrocities and intimidation by Serb forces in Kosovo.

Western warplanes will now attack Yugoslav tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons, transporters and mobile command centres. Until now, the attacks have been aimed at Yugoslavia's air defence systems.

BBC Defence Correspondent Mark Laity says Nato's decision involves risk, as aircraft will have to fly lower to hit their targets. However, it is seen as essential to speed up the air campaign to respond to Serb attacks on Kosovo Albanians, our correspondent says.

'Worst day' of atrocities

Kosovo Albanian reports say many villages in the province have been burned to the ground. They say towns have been attacked, and residents rounded up and shot.

Kosovo Albanian leader Hashim Thaci, who has called on Nato to send in ground troops, said Saturday was the "worst day since the struggle began".


Protest
No let-up in protests as Nato's bombs continue to fall
In an interview with the Austria Press Agency, he said scores of people were killed in the town of Djakovica and accused Serb forces of "rampaging like wild animals", raping women and shooting people.

As many as 30,000 refugees are believed to be stranded without shelter inside Kosovo, with thousands more crossing into neighbouring Albania and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

Refugees crossing into Macedonia painted a consistent picture of atrocities by the Yugoslav army and the Serbian special police force, according to BBC Correspondent Clarence Mitchell.

However, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has remained defiant in the face of Western leaders' resolve to continue bombing his country.

He said that Nato's "despotism" must be resisted, and described the alliance's campaign as the worst threat to peace since the end of World War II.
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See also:

28 Mar 99 | Kosovo
Stealthy 'star' falls to earth
27 Mar 99 | Europe
Kosovo refugees stranded
27 Mar 99 | Europe
Russian Duma condemns Nato
27 Mar 99 | Europe
Q&A: Nato's military strategy
29 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
Net shows Kosovo emotions
27 Mar 99 | Europe
Air strikes in pictures
24 Mar 99 | Kosovo
Analysis: Defying Nato
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