Islamic militants released a number of hostages to Kyrgyz authorities last week, but the conflict along the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border continues. The freed hostages included four Japanese geologists and their interpreter, whose release had been a major objective of Japanese diplomacy. Officials in Tokyo and in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, insist that rumors of a $2 million ransom payment are false, but doubts remain. Kyrgyz authorities acknowledge providing the rebels food and winter clothing, but no weapons and no guarantee of safe passage through Kyrgyz territory to Uzbekistan.