The Times of London, June 1 1999

     Injured in Nato raid, Eve-Ann Prentice
           reports from inside Kosovo           
       The bomb hit. I thought I was dead
  The bomb exploded a few yards in front and
  to the left of me. That was the moment I
  thought I was dead.
  I heard a phenomenal noise and thought it
  was the last thing I would hear on Earth. I
  was thrown to the ground, and was amazed
  when the thick grey-black smoke cleared to
  discover that I was still alive.
  We were deep in southwest Kosovo near the
  front line heading for Prizren, not far
  from the Albanian and Macedonian borders.
  There had been two cars with five
  journalists and two drivers, one of whom
  was also the translator. When we had first
  reached a road tunnel about four miles from
  Prizren it was obvious it had recently been
  bombed. There was rubble all over the road,
  which was impassable. We decided to abandon
  the car, clamber over the rubble and make
  our way by foot into Prizren.
  We spent about three hours in Prizren. When
  we hitched a lift back to the tunnel we
  found there were two of them side by side,
  about 30 yards apart. But both were
  They seemed to be normal mountain road
  tunnels. But they were a newly strategic
  target because they were the last
  relatively safe route for the Yugoslav Army
  to travel from Pristina and other cities to
  the border region.
  We had just started making our way back
  across the rubble on foot when the sound of
  jets, which had been fairly constant,
  suddenly screeched far louder. At that
  moment we all just knew we were going to be
  bombed. We had nowhere to run; nowhere to
  The remains of the nearest tunnel looked a
  death trap because of the danger of it
  falling in on top of us. The nearby
  riverbank was far too exposed. The
  burnt-out wreckage of a military vehicle
  was still smouldering in the undergrowth.
  Then the first bomb hit.
  We all scattered. Almost immediately came
  the sound of another jet diving. By this
  time, three of us had run into the opening
  of the nearest tunnel. Most of us were
  shouting and screaming - trying to find the
  safest place to go. There was simply
  Then the second bomb hit and that was the
  moment I thought I was dead. When I
  recovered, I crawled to my feet and a
  Portuguese radio journalist shouted to me
  to run towards the second tunnel.
  Then came the sound of yet another jet. At
  the same instant I saw the wreckage of one
  of our cars. It was flattened. The last
  time we had seen it, the
  driver/interpreter, Nebojsha Radojevic, had
  been inside. The Portuguese and I scrambled
  into the undergrowth and found a water
  culvert about six feet in diameter. We
  began to crawl in, when the unrelenting
  whine of another impending bombardment
  pierced the air. My colleague wanted to go
  deep in the culvert. I was afraid of being
  buried alive.
  We compromised and hid by the entrance. The
  sound of four explosions was hideously
  menacing. It seemed then as if the attack
  would never stop. We called to the others
  in our party but there was no sight or
  sound if them. We decided to stay put for
  at least half an hour after silence finally
  descended. After about 20 minutes, we heard
  a car close by.
  Seconds later, two enormous Yugoslav Army
  soldiers popped their heads over the edge
  of the culvert, held out their hands and
  scooped me up. One smiled a big grin and
  hugged me like a father. Almost carrying
  me, they shepherded me to their vehicle,
  where all but one of our party was already
  ensconced. We could not find Nebojsha.
  Nenad Golubovic, the other driver and hero
  of the hour for his coolness under fire,
  set off to investigate while the rest of us
  were driven to a nearby village. Serbs and
  Muslims paraded out of their homes and
  swarmed over us, proffering sweet drinks,
  chairs and life-giving cigarettes.
  Then I noticed that this display of
  hospitality was occurring 2ft away from a
  road bridge - one of Nato's key targets.
  Two of us begged that we should find
  somewhere else to congregate. An army
  doctor then ushered us into two cars and we
  were driven several miles up to what
  appeared to be a sleepy village - but was,
  in fact, an army base.
  What followed was one of the oddest moments
  of my life. We were given some of the most
  royal treatment I have ever experienced -
  and that includes tea at the House of
  Lords. In this bizarre world, minutes after
  being almost killed by Nato, we were being
  pampered, and calmed and fed by the very
  people the alliance is trying to destroy.
  Platters of beef, bread and cheese were
  spread for us. The doctor tended our light
  injuries, and dozens of troops spent the
  entire night calming our nerves. All the
  time, Nato jets streaking relentlessly low
  across the village. It was only then that
  there was time to take stock of my
  injuries. They were miraculously light -
  cuts and grazes to my legs, right arm and
  forehead. About an hour after we arrived in
  the village, a soldier who had gone to
  investigate the damage to the tunnel
  returned. He brought the news that Nebojsha
  was dead. The troops brought his relatively
  unmarked corpse back to the village for his
  best friend Nenad to prepare him for his
  eventual burial.
  We also discovered that one of our party, a
  Portuguese television cameraman, had been
  separated from us during the last bombing
  run. He had plunged into the river and was
  carried by the mountain current for about a
  mile and a half - still clutching his
  camera. He managed to drag himself to the
  bank outside a monastery, but was initially
  arrested on suspicion of being a downed
  pilot. His documents eventually persuaded
  the authorities of his real identity. Then
  he had a terrifying four-hour journey
  across mountain tracks to reach Pristina
  and rejoin us. He came under constant fire
  from the Kosovo Liberation Army as it tried
  to ambush his police escort.
  Also slightly wounded in the bombing were a
  Portuguese television reporter, Elsa
  Marujo, and Daniel Schiffer, the French
  philospher who organised our trip. He had
  injured his arm, leg and nose.
  Last night we made another terrifying
  journey along sniper-racked roads said to
  be infested by the KLA and where dozens of
  Serbs have been shot in the past ten days.
  We prepared to sleep in the Grand Hotel in
  Today I try to get out of this land. At
  least I can attempt to leave. The horror of
  the attack has made me realise even more
  how desperate is the plight of the people
  in Kosovo, caught between Nato's screaming
  devils and the KLA's daunting deep-blue
  * Nato said that one aircraft had attacked a
  tunnel near the road where the journalists
  were wounded but denied attacking vehicles.
  A spokesman, said the alliance admired
  western journalists who were determined to
  report from Kosovo, but it could not
  guarantee their security.

Back to texts' page
Back to index page

This page has been visited times.