Moldovan police have detained a total of 13 people who they say are part of a paramilitary group that was planning to take control of a northern Moldovan city with a majority Russian population.

The General Police Inspectorate said Thursday the group wanted to attack state institutions in the capital, Chisinau, and in Balti, a city some 120 kilometers (75 miles) north, with the aim of creating a new separatist republic similar to the one in eastern Ukraine.

Eight were charged Thursday with being part of a paramilitary group that planned to attack state institutions.

Police initially detained five people on Wednesday. Police said the suspected ringleader is from eastern Ukraine and has a criminal record.

Police began a criminal inquiry into the group on Oct. 27.