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War in The Balkans -

Cruise missiles wreck oven factory

From the Times of London, 1 April 1999

By Tom Walker


THREE days earlier it had been an American Stealth fighter-bomber that was the first officially displayed casualty of Yugoslavia versus Nato; yesterday it was nothing more than several thousand domestic appliances.

Anxious to please a journalist pack frustrated by the reporting confines of Belgrade, the Yugoslav Army escorted its second official press trip south of the dreaded 44th parallel to the central Serbian towns of Kragujevac and Cacak. At the first port of call two cruise missiles had destroyed empty warehouses on the edge of a military base; at the second, four cruises had apparently wrecked the Yugoslav white goods industry.

The mystified management of Sloboda Cacak, a third of whose factory is now a mass of twisted metal and concrete, were at a loss to explain why their factory had been blown apart in twin Nato missile attacks on Sunday morning and again on Tuesday. They left holes 30ft deep and 40ft across, and destroyed sheds the size of football pitches.

"Last year Sloboda celebrated 50 years, and two days ago we received the strongest congratulations from Nato," said Radomir Lujic, the general director. "We employed 5,000 people, and that means 20,000 locally are now without bread. You will no doubt write that this is an ammunition factory, like Nato says, but I invite you to look inside." State television has had no better explanation for the pounding of Cacak than that Nato's military planners had somehow been inspired by Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana, in which a British spy works as a vacuum-cleaner salesman. In this instance, carpet cleaning in Serbia has been put back by years. [SIC! How funny!? Actually, this fits with "free and fair" trade the West is boosting about. This shows an example of how the West destroys its competition (i.e. if there is no other less obvious way). Now, the Serbs have to buy vacuum cleaners made in the West.]

...Further east the attacks on Kragujevac seemed to fit more easily with Nato's military plan...

Kragujevac's economy relies on the faltering fortunes of the Yugo car plant; in the spring sunshine yesterday, it appeared a Dagenham with daffodils, in which 180,000 people have dissociated themselves from Western nations they once judged as friends. The people showed their pain yesterday in a long and dignified procession through the wooded park above the town, where around 20,000 gathered around a V-shaped concrete monument symbolising a pair of broken wings.

Kragujevac suffered the worst massacre visited on any Serbian town by the Nazis in the Second World War; 5,000, including entire high-school classes, were slaughtered here in October 1941 as the Germans vowed to take 100 Serb lives for that of every German soldier killed, and 50 for every one wounded. "We were afraid of Nato's bombs, but now who cares?" said Milentir Obradovic, a language professor, as he made his way to the monument.

He told how his father, who died in 1981, had been taken prisoner by the Germans and eventually transported to Auschwitz. "He would not have understood the British and French of today," he said. The football team, FC Kragujevac, jogged past, resplendent in their red tops symbolic of the blood spilt by the town. Even the street names of Kragujevac are written in red, unlike the customary blue found elsewhere. It is a lifeblood of Serbia that all those questioned said they would spill again for Kosovo. "I have visited all its towns, thanks to God, and I will go there again," vowed Milan Petrovic, who described how his mother hid from the Germans. "I never thought we would enter the 21st century like this.

(End of quote).

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Last revised: November 18, 2006