Authorities in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region say police there have killed four Georgian agents trying to enter the country secretly.
Government officials in South Ossetia say police shot the alleged agents early Tuesday near a mountain village Kvaisa.
Further details about any acts of sabotage that might have been planned were not disclosed, and authorities in Tbilisi said they know of no police or members of the country's military who are missing.
Russia's Interfax news agency quotes South Ossetia's separatist president Eduard Kokoity as saying the supposed Georgian agents had plotted to carry out acts of terrorism before the region's independence referendum next month.
South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia, have run their own affairs without international recognition since driving out Georgian government forces in the early 1990s.
Both provinces are seeking either independence or union with Russia, which has had a reduced role in Georgian affairs since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Georgia has vowed to bring both Abkhazia and South Ossetia back under its control, and it has accused Russia of supporting and leading on the separatist movements.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.