The famous Haken-Kneser-Milnor theorem states that every 3-manifold can be expressed in a unique way as a connected sum of prime 3-manifolds. The analogous statement for 3-orbifolds has been part of the folklore for several years, and it was commonly believed that slight variations on the argument used for manifolds would be sufficient to establish it. We demonstrate in this paper that this is not the case, proving that the apparently natural notion of ``essential'' system of spherical 2-orbifolds is not adequate in this context. We also show that the statement itself of the theorem must be given in a substantially different way. We then prove the theorem in full detail, using a certain notion of ``efficient splitting system.''
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