Yugoslav air force raids TV transmitter Attack is first on Croatian capital

September 17, 1991|By New York Times News Service

ZAGREB, Yugoslavia -- Yugoslav air force jets attacked and damaged a television transmitter just outside Zagreb yesterday in the first air attack on Croatia's capital since fighting was touched off more than two months ago.

Soon after air raid sirens wailed all over the city yesterday evening, government officials said the transmitter, to the north of the city, had been attacked by air force MiG fighters. The jets fired six rockets that damaged emergency generators near the transmitter tower without interrupting television broadcasts throughout Croatia.

The use of the federal air force has increased since Croatia's decision Saturday to blockade army garrisons throughout the separatist republic.

In apparent retaliation, the Yugoslav military has turned to its air force, ordering it to fly attack missions against cities and towns.

Earlier yesterday, Hungary accused Yugoslavia of violating its air space with jets sent out to attack targets in Croatia.

Budapest's Defense Ministry spokesman, Gyorgy Keleti, denied a report on the Zagreb radio that Hungary had shot down two Yugoslav fighters after they violated Hungarian air space.

But he acknowledged that Hungarian forces had beefed up their air and ground defenses along Hungary's southern farmland frontier with Yugoslavia and closed at least one major crossing point, at Dravaszabolcs.

In Belgrade, the Yugoslav press agency Tanyug reported that one Yugoslav fighter had been shot down early yesterday morning by a ground-to-air missile near Hungary, but it said bad weather made it impossible to say whether the missile had been fired from Hungary or Croatia.

Serbia's relations with Hungary, often troubled since Hungary ruled Croatia when that republic formed part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, have been particularly strained ever since Budapest was forced to acknowledge earlier this year, after repeated firm denials, that its companies had supplied about 10,000 Soviet-designed automatic weapons to Croatia.

In recent weeks, Serbia has repeatedly accused Hungary of failure to intercept light, crop-dusting planes that it said were flying arms into Croatia from remote airfields in southern Hungary. Budapest denies the charges.

But Hungary is concerned for the safety of tens of thousands of ethnic Hungarians living in northern Serbia.

This community has in general supported the Croatian cause, and Serbian insurgents backed by the Yugoslav army have repeatedly shelled Hungarian villages.

The Hungarian Red Cross says that about 10,000 ethnic Hungarians have fled Yugoslavia to refugee camps in southern Hungary.

In laying siege to the army garrisons, Croatia cut power, food and water to army bases Saturday, after the military refused to withdraw from battlefields throughout the republic, where it is coming to the assistance of Serbian insurgents battling the Croats.

The blockade enraged the army, which pledged to free its troops and unleashed land, air and sea strikes against Croatian cities, leaving at least 40 Croats dead and hundreds wounded since Saturday.

The upsurge in fighting prompted the chairman of a European peace conference that has been meeting in the Hague, the senior British diplomat Lord Carrington, to come to Yugoslavia, where he is expected to meet today at the Adriatic spa of Igalo with leaders of the army and the principal warring sides, Serbia and Croatia, the country's largest republics.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.