updated 2/16/2009 3:28:53 AM ET 2009-02-16T08:28:53

A spokesman for kidnappers holding American John Solecki captive in Pakistan said on  Monday the deadline to negotiate for his release was extended for a "few days" after appeals from "some international organizations."

On Friday, the captors said they would kill Solecki, a United Nations official, in 72 hours if their demands were not met.

Also on Monday, Pakistani militants the government had agreed to impose Islamic law as part of a proposed peace deal in a one-time tourist destination in the northwest where Taliban extremists increasingly hold sway.

The agreement — expected to be announced later Monday — would cover the Swat valley and surrounding regions.

Islamist militants there have been brutally enforcing a hardline version of Islamic law since the middle of last year when an earlier deal broke down, burning girls schools and attacking government targets and security forces

Several past deals with militants in northwest Pakistan have failed and been criticized by the United States as giving insurgents time to regroup, but the country's civilian government says force alone cannot defeat the extremists wreaking havoc there and attacking U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Missile strike
Three missiles destroyed believed fired from a U.S. unmanned aircraft destroyed a house used by a local Taliban commander in the Kurram tribal region of the northwest, killing at least 10 people, witnesses said.

The United States has launched a barrage of similar attacks against suspected militants in the border region by unmanned aircraft since August last year, killing top militants but angering Pakistani leaders, who say they undercut their fight against terror.

Rehman Ullah, a resident of the targeted village of Baggan, said drones were seen in the sky before the attack.

He said 10 bodies had been dug up from the wreckage. Pakistani officials were not available or declined comment.

Regaining the Swat Valley from militants is a major test for Pakistan's government. Unlike the semiautonomous tribal regions where al-Qaida and Taliban have long thrived, the former tourist haven is supposed to be under full government control and lies less than 100 miles from the provincial capital, Islamabad.

A 30-member delegation from a banned militant group in Swat arrived in the provincial capital Peshawar on Monday to finalize details on the deal, said Amir Izzat Khan, a spokesman for the Tahrik Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi or the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law.

He said government representatives had agreed to their demand of imposition of Islamic or Shariah law in the staunchly conservative region of the Muslim region.

"This will bring peace in Swat for sure," Khan said.

What kind of Islamic law?
The kind of Islamic law being envisaged in the region was not clear. Muslim scholars themselves have different interpretations of what it means to be under Shariah. Many extremists in northwest Pakistan apparently favor the exceptionally strict brand the Taliban imposed in Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion in 2001 where female education and music was banned among other measures.

Provincial law minister Arshad Abdullah said the deal would require the militants to first give up violence.

"They have to succumb to law," Abdullah said. "They have to put down their arms."

Farahatullah Babar, a presidential spokesman, said the deal would be announced after the meeting, but declined to give details.

A Taliban spokesman said Sunday the militants had agreed to a 10-day cease-fire as a goodwill gesture.

President Asif Ali Zardari has been indirectly involved in the dialogue after growing increasingly concerned about civilian casualties in Swat, said an official in the president's office who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Zardari has spoken for the need to forcefully combat extremists in Swat and elsewhere in the northwest. Troops have been deployed troops to Swat, but residents and local officials say they seem powerless against the extremists, while police no longer show up for work.

Deteriorating security
Overall security is deteriorating in Pakistan, and several foreigners have been attacked or abducted in recent months.

Solecki was abducted on Feb. 2 in Quetta, a major city in the southwest near the Afghan border. On Friday, his kidnappers threatened to kill him within 72 hours and issued a 20-second video of the blindfolded hostage.

Shahak Baluch, who claims to speak for the little-known Baluch United Liberation Front, announced the extended deadline in a call to the Quetta Press Club.

The group's name indicates a link to separatists rather than Islamic extremists. Its demands include the release of 141 women allegedly held by Pakistani authorities, but Pakistan has denied it is holding the women.

The U.N. has been trying to establish contact with the kidnappers, officials said.

More on Taliban Asif Ali Zardari

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