ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) -- A Muslim extremist group delayed the beheading of an American captive among a group held hostage for two weeks, and confirmed that his band attacked a plantation and abducted more people Monday.
The Abu Sayyaf had set a noon deadline to kill at least one of its three U.S. hostages. Minutes before the deadline, the Philippine government agreed to bring in a Malaysian negotiator who had helped broker a similar hostage crisis a year ago.
Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya then called a local radio station by satellite telephone, saying he was awaiting for the Malaysian government to confirm it will allow Sen. Sairin Karno to join negotiations.
He also issued a veiled threat and confirmed that his band attacked a plantation hours earlier.
The military said the rebels abducted 15 people, including the plantation security chief and two 12-year-old children.
The government was relieved at the reprieve but reiterated its no-ransom policy and refused to call off the thousands of troops swarming across the southern island of Basilan, where the hostages are held.
"We will do anything we can so that no one will be harmed," presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said. "But we will not stop operations. We cannot accept ransom demands. Our democracy will be destroyed if we cave in to ransom demands."
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