An Italian Cabinet minister Monday called for rapists to be chemically castrated, amid a growing number of vigilante attacks on immigrants that have followed a series of rapes blamed on foreigners.

Roberto Calderoli of the Northern League, who is Minister for Simplification of Laws in the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi, said that chemical castration was "the only answer" when teenage girls were being attacked.

"Talk of rehabilitation is not enough," he told La Stampa. "Society must defend itself."

Meanwhile, Roberto Maroni, the Interior Minister, urged Italians not to take the law into their own hands after masked youths armed with wooden clubs smashed up a kebab bar near the scene of a rape at Caffarella Park on the Appian Way in Rome over the weekend.

Five Romanians were beaten savagely in the raid, and two are in a serious condition.

The attack followed an incident on Valentine's Day in which a 14-year-old girl was raped and her 16-year-old boyfriend beaten up in the park, which is used by courting couples.

Also over the weekend a 21-year-old Bolivian girl was raped in Milan by a man described as North African, while in Bologna a Tunisian who had just been released from prison after being held on drugs offences was re-arrested for allegedly raping a 15-year-old local girl.

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.