Today's Story Line

Nato's original reasons for starting the war in Kosovo - to save the ethnic Albanians and bring them autonomy - are now being overshadowed by questions over how the war will end . Weeks of bombing will force Yugoslavia to its knees, say NATO's top brass. But not before most ethnic Albanians are expelled and a few American soldiers are captured, counters Serb chief Slobodan Milosevic. Despite NATO's bombs falling around them, Serbian paramilitary units are cleaning out Kosovo with guerrilla-style tactics honed during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.

Up to one-third of Kosovo's 1.8 million ethnic Albanians are expected to flee into nearby nations. The presence of so many refugees may unleash political tensions in those nations. And many refugees will try to flee farther to Western Europe. Germany and other nations are eager to prevent an exodus from the Balkans by promising massive aid.

Russia continues to growl with menacing tones over NATO's exercise of power outside its turf. Much of the military muscle-flexing may be driven by domestic politics.

One of the world's largest and most populous nations, Indonesia, has witnessed several major incidents of savage violence among people of different religions and ethnicity (three stories, this page and next). Is the country on the verge of splitting up? A devastated economy is bringing out latent tensions in a diverse nation that is restoring democracy after last year's ouster of Suharto. Quote of note: "We got poor and they got rich. We were never happy inside Indonesia." - Tom Beanal, an Irian Jaya tribal leader.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *KEEPING IN TOUCH DURING THE WAR: For the few Western reporters still in Belgrade, such as the Monitor's Balkans correspondent Justin Brown, the past week has been a roller coaster as word trickled in from Kosovo about friends and colleagues, most of them ethnic Albanians. Many of the journalists in Belgrade were extremely upset when sources reported that five prominent ethnic Albanians had been executed, including Baton Haxhiu, editor of a leading newspaper - only to get a report later that Mr. Haxhiu was alive. Justin has been able to talk by phone with some of his Kosovar colleagues, though not all. At least one has made it across the border to Macedonia, while another is set on staying in the capital, Pristina. One ethnic Albanian colleague popped up on BBC radio via a satellite phone as the spokesman for the Kosovo Liberation Army. Meanwhile, Justin is bracing for the first NATO bombs to drop on Belgrade. The city has had a few false alarms on air-raid sirens.

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