One of two American hostages held by Muslim kidnappers in the southern Philippines is seriously ill and is being carried around on a stretcher, a military officer saidon Tuesday.
Colonel Alexander Aleo said he had received intelligence that the condition of American captive Martin Burnham had worsened. Burnham, his wife, Gracia, and a Filipina nurse are being held by Abu Sayyaf militants in the jungles of the island of Basilan.
Earlier reports said Martin Burnham was suffering from malaria but Aleo said it was possible he had contracted other diseases.
The Burnhams, an American missionary couple and Filipia Ediborah Yap were kidnapped almost a year ago by the Abu Sayyaf, a small group of self-styled Islamic fighters linked to the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden.
Over a dozen Filipino hostages and one American, Californian Guillermo Sobero, have been killed by the Abu Sayyaf since they launched their kidnapping spree in May 2001.
Newly appointed military Southern Command Chief Major General Ernesto Carolina on Tuesday vowed to defeat the rebels and rescue the hostages.