Croatian rebel Serbs deny firing on NATO plane


BELGRADE, March 9 -- Croatian rebel Serbs denied Wednesday that they had fired on a Spanish NATO plane forcing it to make an emergency landing at a Croatian airfield after four passengers were wounded and the plane suffered damage to its fuselage and tail section.

The midsize CASA-212 plane, with three Spanish crew members and five passengers aboard, was riddled with bullet holes Tuesday from seven anti-aircraft rounds while flying from the Croatian capital of Zagreb to the Adriatic port of Split.


Four NATO personnel were slightly wounded in the incident by shrapnel and were flown to a NATO airbase in Vicenza, Italy for treatment.

Rebel Serbs, who have occupied a third of Croatia since the 1991 Serb-Croat war in 1991, denied having shot at the plane after Croatian military officials accused the Serbs of firing two Russian-made anti- aircraft rockets.

'Yesterday's flight was not announced (by NATO) nor was it seen over the Republic of Serbian Krajina,' said a statement issued by the military command of the self-styled Serbian state of Krajina.

The incident is currently being investigated by a joint NATO-United Nations team in an attempt to determine the source of the fire.


NATO jet fighters have been patrolling the skies over Bosnia- Herzegovina to enforce a U.N. ban on all flights by any of the parties involved in the Bosnian war.

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