Ethnic Moldavians stormed border checkpoints early Wednesday, threatening to kill border guards and their families unless Soviet security forces withdraw, Tass reported.

The more than 3,000 militants also set a fence on fire and threw stones before being persuaded to leave the checkpoints on the Romanian border, the official Soviet news agency said.It was the first report of violence in Moldavia since members of the Gaguaz minority launched a drive to secede from the republic earlier this month and underscored the conflicts that have mushroomed since President Mikhail Gorbachev loosened the Kremlin's grip on ethnic groups.