U.S. calls Chinese killed in embassy intelligence agents

June 24, 1999|By NEWSDAY

WASHINGTON -- Two of the three Chinese journalists killed in the accidental NATO bombing of China's Embassy in Belgrade last month were intelligence officers, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The May 7 attack apparently destroyed the embassy's intelligence compound, according to a senior administration official.

He said this could explain why, despite detailed private assurances by President Clinton and U.S. diplomats, China continues to insist that the bombing could not have been accidental.

"It could be what was heavily damaged was that room," meaning the intelligence center, said the official. "But we had just targeted the building itself."

NATO believed it was bombing the Yugoslavian military's Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement, relying on a map that was several years old.

The U.S. officials said that Shao Yunghuan, who worked for the Xinhua News Agency, was in fact a Chinese intelligence officer, as was Xu Xinghu, who worked for the Guangming Daily. Also killed was Zhu Ying, Xu's wife.

Yu Shuning, spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said, "We do not accept this intelligence version. All those killed were journalists [who] had been writing stories on the Kosovo crisis."

The U.S. officials also disclosed that a midlevel CIA officer had told some of his colleagues before the bombing that the designated target did not appear to him to be the military procurement office.

"He thought it was up the street somewhere," said the senior official. "But he never thought that what was targeted was the Chinese Embassy."

Pub Date: 6/24/99

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