Bhubaneswar (Agencies): Maoists holding an Orissa district collector and a junior engineer hostage on Friday extended their deadline for another 48 hours.

A Maoist leader, identifying himself as Bhaskar, secretary of the Andhra-Orissa Border State Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, informed a section of the media of the extended deadline.

The announcement by the rebels came a few hours after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appealed to the rebels to extend their 48-hour deadline to meet their demands for releasing the hostages that lapsed on Friday evening.

The Maoists have made several demands, including a halt to the anti-Maoist Operation Green Hunt, the release of all political prisoners, the scrapping of accords with MNCs and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody for the release of District Collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi.

The government has offered to hold talk with the abductors and said it is taking the help of two academics R. Someswara Rao, a retired economics professor of Sambalpur University, and Hargopal, a professor of the Central University (Hyderabad), to end the crisis.