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Accounting errors to blame for German elite troops' 'missing' ammunition - report

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Book-keeping errors rather than theft are likely to account for more than 60 kilograms of explosives and almost 50,000 rounds of ammunition thought to have disappeared from German special forces’ stores in the summer, according to an official report seen by Reuters.

An inventory found that most of the differences between the books and the actual stocks of the elite troops could be explained by accounting errors, a report sent to parliament by armed forces head General Eberhard Zorn on Monday showed.

About 29,000 of 48,000 missing pieces of ammunition, fuses and detonating cord have been accounted for, according to the document.

Evidence also suggested that the missing 62 kilograms of explosives never existed, according to the report. They appeared to be the result of staff mistakenly counting more explosives than were actually kept in stock.

The army leadership found in the course of an investigation into Germany’s elite KSK special forces that huge amounts of ammunition and explosives handed out to the forces appeared to have gone missing.

In May, police seized weapons, explosives and ammunition during a raid on the private property of a KSK soldier in the eastern state of Saxony.

In July, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer disbanded one of the four KSK commando companies in a bid to purge the unit of far-right extremist sympathisers.

Established in 1996, the KSK’s reputation was tarnished in 2003 when its then-commander was forced into early retirement after being accused of being close to far-right extremists - links that have continued to dog the unit’s reputation since.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Hugh Lawson