War in the Balkans: Italy - Venetian trawlers net Nato bombs

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The Independent Online
ITALY SENT a minesweeper to Venice to allay the fears of clam fishermen after they hauled in bombs that they believe Nato planes dropped while on missions to the Balkans.

Three trawlers from Chioggia, at the southern end of the Venice lagoon, found several bombs among their clams last Thursday. The yellow cylinders, about the size of a drinks can and linked in groups of six, bore the label "Blu 97". Most of the devices, believed to be cluster bombs, were blown up by military experts. The trawlers were fishing about 20 miles offshore in international waters.

Major Francesco Barrontini, of the 5 ATAF division, which co-ordinates Nato operations in Yugoslavia, said the bombs could come from the campaign against Serbia. He added that "if explosive devices have to be dumped in an emergency they are first deactivated".

Chioggia is in the flight path of French fighters based at nearby Istrana. Federcoopesca, the Fishermen's Federation, said its members were already economically penalised because of the war and it was intolerable that "a stretch of sea regularly crossed by fishermen should become a dumping ground for weapons".

Nine days ago, three fishermen from Chioggia were injured when a bomb in their nets exploded.It was thought at the time that the culprit was a Second World War relic.

t AS THE crow flies, she was only four miles from Kosovo. As the B-52 bomber speeds, she was only a few minutes from the village of Korisa, where Nato warplanes were accused of killing about a hundred civilians a few hours earlier. But Hillary Clinton did not talk of the latest dead when she toured the Stankovic camp in northern Macedonia yesterday. Instead, she referred to past atrocities, notably those carried out by Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic. "I don't know how many of you saw Schindler's List or Sophie's Choice," she told more than 100 journalists after chatting with refugees. "At the end of this violent century, you'd think we should have learnt something."