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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 May, 2004, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Swedish army underpants are MIA
Swedish soldier uniform
Swedish soldiers are so attached to their military-issue green camouflage underpants that 3,199 pairs of them went missing last year.

The garments topped the list of items that recruits failed to account for when the army does its inventory.

The next most-pilfered article was the olive-coloured military bath towel, of which 2,400 disappeared, said the army in-house newspaper Vaernpliktsnytt.

Military service is compulsory for men aged 18 to 24 in Sweden.

More than 15,500 new recruits are inducted into the Swedish army every year, typically serving between eight and 15 months as conscripts.

Each new soldier is issued with military clothing free of charge - including the underpants, which cost the army 16 kroner ($2) per pair.

Army officials said they had no idea why so many pairs of underpants went missing in action, but possible explanations included theft, loss and general wear and tear.

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