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Almost 40% of the $312 million Niger spent on defence procurement contracts over the last three years was lost through inflated costs or materials that ware not delivered, according to a government audit of military contracts seen by Reuters. The deals for military vehicles, ammunition and attack helicopters were mainly signed with local contractors who then sourced from firms abroad, including Ukraine, France, Russia and China.

Niger, an ally of France and the United States in the fight against Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked extremists in the Sahel, is one of the world’s poorest countries but has ramped up military spending in the last few years. Hundreds of Nigerien troops have been killed in fighting and soldiers frequently complain about conditions on the frontline. The audit was handed to Niger’s top prosecutor in April, who said at the time those involved would be held accountable. The government spokesman referred Reuters to the prosecutor for comment.

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