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Strange crashes, possibly triggered by Wix

I have a buildscript that invokes make. Make in turn invokes some
Windows executables. Sometimes the executables work fine, and
sometimes they (appear to) kill both make *and* the bash script that
invoked make.

I am really stuck and don't know where to start debugging this. The
same executables work fine with the same arguments when started by
hand from a Cygwin shell.  The script just stops without saying
anything after the make and before the immediately following echo
statement that would normally report the return code. The crashes are
repeatable and seem to happen in the same place (although other
invocations of the same commands from within the makefile work fine).
I can get the compilation to proceed by running the failing steps by

The two windows executables that trigger the problem are light and
candle in Wix 3.5. I have reproduced this on two different copies of
XP running on two different VM hosts. I have also seen it happen with
an older version of Wix. One of the VMs was installed from scratch and
has no bloda on it. I am using the most recent Cygwin version. The
project is large, and all the other compilation steps work fine. It
also previously compiled fine on another Cygwin XP VM.

It might be something that I sort of brought onto myself. Both
commands produce a fair number of warnings when invoked on their own,
but no errors. They also seem to produce the expected output before
make and the enclosing bash script abruptly exit.

I'll be most grateful for any help or suggestions. Many thanks.

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