By Natalia Antelava
Hundreds of ethnic Georgians in the breakaway province of South Ossetia have blocked the main roads in the area in a further escalation of tensions.
They are demanding the release of a Georgian policeman abducted on Thursday by the South Ossetian forces.
South Ossetian authorities say the policeman is a criminal.
They have also said that unidentified Georgian gunmen have abducted 12 South Ossetians, among them a high-ranking official.
Boris Chochiyev, the South Ossetian state minister, told the BBC that his deputy had been captured and severely beaten.
Population: About 70,000
Major languages: Ossetian, Georgian, Russian
Major religion: Orthodox Christianity
Currency: Russian rouble, Georgian lari
Georgian officials who are investigating the matter say they believe the abduction could be an act of revenge by the relatives of a Georgian policeman who was kidnapped by the South Ossetian forces last week.
He was abducted when South Ossetian gunmen attacked a Georgian police checkpoint.
The incident has fuelled new tensions in this volatile separatist province which wants independence from Georgia.
Ethnic Georgians who live in South Ossetia have now blocked the main roads and threatened to take more hostages unless the Georgian policeman is freed.