Ethnic tension exploded into violence in Moldavia on Friday when armed Moldavians clashed with Russians and Ukrainians east of the capital. At least six people were killed and 30 wounded, Tass said.

The violence came after the separatists seized the city government building in Dubossary, set up roadblocks and announced elections for an independent parliament, said legislators in the Moldavian capital of Kishinev.The republic parliament announced formation of a new national guard to try to establish order in the fracturing republic.

A state of emergency was declared by leaders of the towns of Dubossary, Tiraspol and Bendery in the eastern half of the republic, said Pyotr Shornikov, a member of the Moldavian parliament.

The developments occurred in and around Dubossary, a town on the Dniester River in a heavily Slavic area east of Kishinev. A year-old secessionist movement in the region picked up steam last week when another minority, the Gagauz, declared sovereignty in the southern corner of the republic.

The unrest in both the Dniester and Gagauz areas started more than a year ago, after Moldavia's legislature passed a law in August 1989 declaring Moldavian the republic's national language. Non-Moldavians feared discrimination and loss of their own culture as Moldavian nationalism grew.