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Inquiry in Iraqi Deaths Delayed by Exhumation

Marine and Army investigators are struggling to get permission to exhume the bodies of Iraqis to strengthen criminal cases against American soldiers and Marines. But their efforts are at odds with the religious and cultural sensitivities of Muslims, who generally bar disturbing a body once it is buried.

The biggest case is in Haditha, where Marines allegedly killed 24 Iraqi civilians last November. Investigators are expected to wrap up that case in the next two weeks -- they say there are waiting to examine the bodies.

Another case is in Mamudiya, where a soldier allegedly raped and murdered a teenaged girl, then killed three members of her family.

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Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.