Grdelica: NATO bombing victims remembered

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the deaths of 15 passengers on a train, killed in Grdelica Gorge in a NATO air strike.

Source: B92, Tanjug

The train, traveling on the Belgrade-Thessaloniki line, was hit as it crossed a bridge in the southern Serbian region, on April 12, 1999.

Today, Serbian Railways Director Milanko Šarančić, and the public enterprise's Chairman of the Board Branislav Ristivojević placed wreaths and flowers at a memorial plaque on the bridge over the South Morava.

Šarančić said that the pilot, who on someone's orders flew over the bridge, then fired on the train to kill an estimated 50 people.

"Unfortunately, the forensics could not determine the exact number of those killed, because of the condition that the bodies were in," he said.

He reminded that the victims were described as "collateral damage", of an operation NATO dubbed "Angel of Mercy".

"I think they are not aware of what they have done and what kind of human tragedy they caused in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, now Serbia", Šarančić said of the Western military alliance.

"I cannot accept that Serbia is now asked to forget about all this. We cannot forget the victims and the tragedy that this has caused in many families," he was quoted as saying.

Beside the 15 confirmed civilian victims, 44 others were wounded in the strike, while a number of others are still listed as missing.

Representatives of the Serbian Army, VS, unions, political parities and the nearby Leskovac municipality also attended the ceremony today.

NATO said at the time that the double missile strike on the passenger train was a mistake.

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