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Slain Palestinian Teen's Body Unrecognizable, Father Says

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The body of a slain Palestinian teen was burned beyond recognition, forcing his parents to provide DNA samples to confirm his identity, his father told NBC News on Wednesday. Hussein Abu Khader criticized police for responding too slowly to his report that his 17-year-old son Mohammed had been seen being bundled into a van in east Jerusalem on Tuesday, and for not launching a manhunt immediately. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that he has asked for a priority investigation and vowed that the culprits will be punished severely, a State Department spokeswoman said.

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The father said Mohammed's cellphone rang for 30 minutes after neighbors saw him being forced into the vehicle as the teen headed to a mosque for morning prayers at 4 a.m. Speculation is swirling that the Palestinian teen was kidnapped and murdered in retribution for the killings of three Israeli teens, whose bodies were found on Monday, nearly three weeks after they were abducted in the occupied West Bank. Israel says Palestinian Hamas militants killed them, although the Islamist group has not taken responsibility.

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- Ayman Mohyeldin, with Reuters

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