BUDAPEST, Hungary — Yugoslavia's civil war spilled over its borders into Hungary this weekend when thousands fled to escape the ethnic bloodletting, and Serbian-commanded air force jets violated Hungarian airspace en route to bombing Croatian targets.
The flood of Yugoslav refugees across Hungary's southern border was the first major influx into a neighboring country since fighting between Serbs and Croats intensified in late June after Croatia and Slovenia declared independence.
The nationalist leaders of Serbia and Croatia last week ordered massive mobilizations to be completed by the end of the month, heralding an escalation of the fratricide that has already claimed at least 300 lives.
Hungarian television on Saturday showed elderly women and young mothers with children arriving at makeshift tent camps in the southern Hungarian towns of Mohacs and Bekescsaba.
Prime Minister Jozsef Antall met with the ambassadors of major Western countries to discuss the refugee crisis that has sent nearly 10,000 Yugoslav citizens to his country in the past few days, according to the Hungarian newspaper Nepszabadsag.
Another 1,000 Yugoslavs from eastern Croatia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina arrived in Hungary early Saturday, said Istvan Markus, who is the head of the Hungarian refugee affairs office in Budapest.
Many of the refugees are ethnic Hungarians whose towns and villages were once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but were deeded to the Yugoslav federation after World War I.
They have fled in fear that the impending confrontations will turn their homes into a battle zone. National guardsmen and police reservists from the warring republics are fighting for control of the region around the city of Osijek, and several villages populated by ethnic Hungarians lie along the route to Osijek from the current strongholds of the Serbian militants.
On Friday, a deputy chief of staff of the Hungarian armed forces, Jozsef Biro, complained that Yugoslav military jets had penetrated Hungarian airspace by as much as two miles en route to bombing raids on Croatian targets.
Hungarian troops defending the border have been ordered to shoot at any Yugoslav warplanes flying low over Hungarian territory, Nepszabadsag reported. But a spokesman for the border guards, Janos Zubek, said the Hungarian forces were authorized to shoot only if fired upon by the trespassing aircraft.
The Yugoslav armed forces claim to be acting as a peacekeeping force in the battles between Serbs and Croats. But Croatian authorities in Zagreb accuse the federal military, whose officers corps is 70% Serbian, of aiding the Serbian rebels who have seized nearly one-fifth of Croatian territory in recent weeks.
A cease-fire was announced by the Yugoslav federal presidency on Aug. 7, but at least 70 have died in ethnic clashes since then.