Reuters quotes purported Taliban spokesman Mullah Hayatullah Khan as saying the militants decided to extend the deadline to March 19 in order to give Rome more time to respond to their demands.
The Taliban wants Italy to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. The reporter, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, has appealed to the Italian government to save his life.
Mastrogiacomo was abducted with two Afghan colleagues in southern Helmand Province last week, and the Taliban claims he confessed to being a spy for British forces in the country.
On March 16, the Taliban said it executed one of the Afghans.
The newspaper that Mastrogiacomo works for, "La Repubblica," has denied their reporter is a spy, and has called for his release.
Meanwhile, one Afghan child was killed and two children seriously wounded today when the Taliban blew up a vehicle by the side of a road as a NATO military convoy passed by.
Another civilian was wounded and a coalition soldier suffered minor injuries in the attack.
NATO reported today that a mortar attack on March 16 on its largest base in southern Afghanistan, outside Kandahar city, slightly wounded three soldiers.
RFE/RL Afghanistan Report
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