Collateral Damage Tightens NATO's Timetable

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BELGRADE: With clear skies over Belgrade, NATO's bombs are falling faster than ever. And it isn't just the Serb Army that's taking the hits. After two large explosions decimated civilian apartment buildings and a medical clinic in the mining town of Aleksinac, about 100 miles south of Belgrade, CNN reports -- as do local Serb officials -- that at least four civilians have been killed, and more may be buried beneath the rubble. A spokesman at NATO headquarters, Maj. Dan Baggio, stressed that military planners did their best to "minimize the possibility of collateral damage." He said the incident was being investigated.

Time to stop bombing? Just the opposite. Accounts of torn limbs and pools of civilian blood are sure to test the committment of some of NATO's more squeamish members. Which leaves U.S. military planners in a race not only against Milosevic's Serb forces in Kosovo but also against their allies in Brussels. "Milosevic is probably going to sue for peace quite soon," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "The danger is that when he does, NATO will be compelled to settle -- and make a bad deal. The way this has gone for the Kosovars, it's going to be very hard for the allies to keep bombing." Four lives' worth of "collateral damage" only makes it that much harder.

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