The following text is written by a survivor of the NATO aggression, M. Petrovic from Nis:
” OK, I have to admit I planned posting this photo on exact anniversary date, 7th of May, when it will be 9 years since this warcrime happened. I just couldn’t keep this pic that long on hold, so will post another one when the date comes.
What’s the point of this shot? This is small, some would say even dull, chapel, in front of fortress of Nis, and University of Nis (Banovina palace) building. It was built by local government and victim’s families, to be a reminder of one of the worst war-crimes against civilians that happened in NATO 1999 airstrike campaign against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, ironically coded Merciful Angel.
On that certain day, NATO aircrafts dropped United Nations forbidden mass-killing cluster bombs over two civilian neighborhoods in Serbian second major city of Nis. “Targets” were people at the marketplace, and city’s central civilian hospital. 15 people have died, more than 60 injured. Among them, also my teacher of literature, elder woman aged over 60. My parents have been in one of the bombed streets just 10 minutes before the bombings, so I guess they were lucky.
What we are talking here is a war-crime that was never officially recognized by NATO spokesmen, committed against civilians exclusively as there were no military targets kilometers away, by internationally forbidden weapon designed for mass killings of human targets.
So far, no one was charged for this act, and it remains completely forgotten case.
Years after this happened, there are still many small clusters unexploded on most random locations of the city. For last 9 years, about 10 people either got killed or wounded by randomly spotting onto unexploded bombs.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the single case of targeting civilians with cluster bombs. Cluster bombs attacks continued in Nis once again, but also there were such acts in other towns and cities, and especially in Kosovo, once even against column of Albanian refugees (!). Official data count between 90 and 150 civilian deaths caused by them, since 1999. and the number is still increasing because it is absolutely impossible to dismount all of them, scattered at various locations.
More or less, MY POINT is not to start political debate, to express some point of view, etc etc. I PERFECTLY don’t care and don’t want to get involved into any discussion about NATO airstrikes on Serbia&Montenegro of 1999.
What I’m trying to point out here is an obvious WAR CRIME against civilians and only civilians, committed by the weapons designed for mass killings and internationally forbidden by UN resolutions. Where does this fit into TrekEarth policy of posting photos? I guess the city of Nis lives with this, like many other places on this planet have scars from various warfares that don’t disappear that quickly.. Especially when not a single person was accused, charged or even suspected of committing such acts. In the name of mercy, of course”.
One interesting article appeared in The Guardian, just the day after the bloodshed in Nis:
Nato cluster bombs ‘kill 15’ in hospital and crowded market
Reporters tell of bodies lying among vegetables after lunchtime raid
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 8 May 1999 03.30 BST
‘There is nothing military within a kilometre (half a mile) of it,’ mayor Zoran Zivkovic told the Reuters news agency in Belgrade by telephone from the industrial city which has been repeatedly attacked by Nato planes.
‘Cluster bombs hit the market, nearby buildings look like Swiss cheese… missiles hit a pathology ward, a parking lot and nearby buildings,’ Mr Zivkovic was quoted as saying. ‘I saw a dead man with a carrier bag with onions in it.’
A Nis resident posted a message on the internet saying his father had just returned from the market and had said Nato planes seemed to be ‘showering it with bombs randomly’. He said his father had been standing in a queue for cigarettes when a bomb hit a photographic shop at one end of the street, and added that the university had also been hit. The attack happened just before noon, when the market was full.
Bodies were strewn about, among carrots and other vegetables in pools of blood, according to an Associated Press correspondent reporting from Nis where journalists were escorted by Serbian authorities. Dr Petar Bosnjakovic, a director of city’s hospital, was reported to have said that at least 15 people died and 60 others were wounded.
On Aneta Andrejevic street near the vegetable market, houses and cars were destroyed, according to reports from the scene. The buildings were described as being pockmarked by cluster bombs, which scatter delayed explo sives. At the market itself, one old woman was said to have been hit in the head, her body partially dismembered.
On Sumatovacka street, near Nis university, one house was burnt out. Dozens had windows blown out. Several cars were destroyed. Glass and debris littered the area.
Not far away, Slavica Dinic, 30, and her daughter were sleeping when the bombs hit. “We ducked for cover under the bed. One bomb hit our house, but my family is unharmed,’ she was reported to have said.
Three people were reported to have died at the hospital, and three others near it. The other nine were killed at the market. Power lines in the city were reported destroyed, two days after a strike on a fuel depot caused huge fires in the city.
Nato last night said it had no information about any collateral damage. ‘The problem is we are not on the ground’, a spokesman said.
Nato military spokesman General Walter Jertz said alliance aircraft had attacked a radio relay station and an airfield at Nis but that it had no indication that its bombs had hit the hospital or market.
‘For sure I can tell you we did not target civilian hospitals’, he said. ‘ We do not tar get any civilian targets whatsoever. We will be very honest. If anything has gone wrong we will address it.’
Defence sources said there were no reports of RAF planes operating in the area at the time.
Nis television station TV5 has repeatedly warned residents to stay in shelters because of cluster bomb explosions. Residents reported that Nis airport had been attacked earlier. Nato on Wednesday bombed a fuel depot in the city, causing spectacular explosions and fires.
Nis and surrounding areas serve as the headquarters for the Yugoslav Third Army, which includes the Pristina Corps responsible for army operations in Kosovo.
The reported deaths came on the 45th day of Nato air raids which also hit a railway bridge on the main Belgrade-Bucharest line, and the home town of President Slobodan Milosevic at Pozarevac, 50 miles east of Belgrade, where his son Marko owns what claims to be the biggest discotheque in Yugoslavia, and where there are assumed to be military installations.
A television mast on Mount Ovcar near Cacak, central Serbia, already struck twice, was again attacked, according to local media and residents.
In the Yugoslav capital Belgrade, relieved residents emerged from their homes and air raid shelters after being spared from attack for the third consecutive night.
For the first time this week public transport was running normally after electricity was restored following Nato attacks on power plants that blacked out much of the country.