Injured workers still defiant against Nato bombs

KRAGUJEVAC, Yugoslavia, April 11 (South News) Car workers wore black targets and carried placards condemning "NATO murderers" for the bombing of its production plants early on Friday  in this central Serbian town.

The car factory ''Crvena Zastava'' (Red Flag) in the city of Kragujevac, the largest manufacture of cars in Balkans,120 kilometres south of Belgrade, was protected for days by a "live shield" consisting of factory's employees and their children and families.

Tens of those forming the "live shield" were killed. 23 of the 124 suffering injuries were still in the hospital, wih six were in the intensive care units, Slavica Djukic Dejanovic of the Kragujevac hospital, said Saturday.

Five of Zastava's  50 production plants where Zastava's most popular car, the Yugo, were demolished after NATO bombing, its general manager said today.

``The bombing was like a micro-surgical operation. They hit in the centre of each plant. Look what damage they did with six bombs in 10 seconds,'' said Zastava's general manager, Mr Milan Beko.

He said painting, power, truck and blacksmith plants had also been demolished.Walking around the 60-hectare plant  was made foreign journalists saw freshly painted car bodies lying in ruin, while engine parts protruded from debris and broken glass.

Mr Beko estimated the damage would cost hundreds of millions of dollars as the 150-year-old factory had been ``paralysed''. Mr Beko denied that Zastava, also known for arms production, had built any military weapons for two years.

``It is nonsense to call this factory a military one,'' Mr Beko said, pointing to the destroyed Yugos. ``Judge for yourself if this is a military target.''

Beko said that 38,000 of Zastava's workers, and 60,000 from 200 companies linked to it, were now out of work. ``We are out of bread now. I hope that NATO will stop bombing us,'' said one of the injured workers.

Employees with their families and children formed the "live shield" attempting to save their workplace from destruction. They stayed in the factory 24 hours a day, after their work shifts and during the air-raid alert as well.

Beko estimated the damage at "a couple of hundred million dollars", but added it could be more because the "whole factory, founded 150 years ago "is paralysed."

."We are out of bread now. I hope that NATO will stop bombing us," Jelena Vuckovic, one of the injured workers, said. Dejan Popovic, 30, who was injured in arms, said: "We did not expect them to bomb us. It is impossible to describe."

The region of Kragujevac has been a target of NATO raids several times, since the start of the bombing campaign on March 24. Beside the factory, a power plant also provide heat to some 11,000 apartments in this central Serbian town. Hospitals, schools, nurseries, housing facilities and other objects in the town are left without heating.120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Belgrade, officials said.

Related: April 9: Report from Zastava's Car workers

              March 27 Open letter from  Zastava's Car workers