`This is a horror story. There is no other way to describe it'

Robert Fisk
Thursday 15 April 1999 23:02

THIS IS a horror story. There are no other words for it. It is the story of a series of massacres along a road lined with torched houses and cherry blossom, of smouldering skeletons and women cut in half, of a man's head lying in a field with the wind blowing his brown hair against the grass, and of corpses lying in a squalid hospital nearby.

Nato did all this, say the Serbs, and it is true that US munitions litter the road and fields around here, sometimes within a few inches of corpses, body parts, human bones, smashed tractors and trailers, their pathetic contents of old clothes, pots and family snapshots lying around them.

Clearly there were air strikes here. And Nato appears to be responsible for an atrocity.

But we saw other dark and terrible things on the road between Djakovica and Prizren yesterday afternoon. Busloads of terrified Kosovo Albanians, women and children and old men, peering from behind black curtains as they were driven east; row after row of burnt out houses, some of them still burning, a few only recently set on fire.

And several of the dead along the road appeared to have been attacked by machine-gun fire.

The Serbs say that 74 Albanian refugees were massacred on this road on Wednesday afternoon. And I counted 20 corpses - or parts of bodies - in three bombing locations along a 12-mile stretch of highway, and in the mortuary at Prizren, where a half-naked woman and a tiny girl covered in blood lay on the floor partly covered in shrouds.

Esmet Sulja, whose sister-in-law was in the mortuary, told journalists brought here by Serb officials that he came from the Kosovo village of Malitce and was told to move "for his own safety" three weeks ago to Dobros.

On Wednesday, he says he was driving his tractor containing 35 people in the trailer from Djakovica to Prizren when planes began dropping bombs around him.

The 46-year-old man, who had lacerations on his face, told us from his hospital bed that five of the passengers had been killed in the trailer .

There were terrible scenes along the road, for the Serbs had left many of the bodies where they were found. A grey-haired old man lay cut in half in a tree, six corpses, including that of a young woman, lay in brightly coloured clothes in a field where they had been dragged after the air raid. I found a human head 50 metres away and skeletons burnt out in the back of another trailer.

The munitions parked along the road bore several American markings. One bomb part was marked "for use on MK82" and was marked assembly 96214assy78-201872, with a date of manufacture of March 1978. A missile circuit board contained the code fchem872110.

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