Islamic militants attacked settlements in the rugged and desolate Osh region of Kyrgyzstan, near the border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The guerrillas, numbering about 1,000, are apparently based in Tajikistan. They have had little difficulty thus far holding their own against weak and poorly disciplined Kyrgyz forces. The insurgents have taken about 100 hostages, including a Kyrgyz general and four Japanese geologists. Their goal may be to establish a corridor from Tajikistan into the Ferghana valley in Uzbekistan, to ignite an Islamic rebellion there. Japan has hinted that it may send a special commando team into Kyrgyzstan on a rescue operation.