A 15-month-old boy is dead after being attacked by two Pit bull terriers in the town of Campolongo, near the southern city of Salerno, sources said on Monday.

"This morning there was an attack by a dog on a child who was in the arms of his mother, at least that is what I have been told," said Mario Conte, the mayor of Eboli, the municipality Campolongo belongs to.

"He was literally ripped from her arms and bitten.

"The veterinary service will take away both dogs, who do not belong to the family hit by the tragedy, but to another family that lives in the same residence.

"It was a ferocious attack and, even though one of the child's uncles intervened to try and free him, nothing could be done.

"No one can explain how it could have happened as these dogs had always been there.

"It is a tragedy that has shocked the entire community and it must serve as a warning to those who own these types of dog who, unfortunately, are particular and have special needs.

"It is necessary to be very careful with these dogs.

"We have lost a small child here, something that affects everyone.

"From what I have been told, no worrying incidents had ever occurred".

Sources said the mother was treated for injuries she sustained trying to defend the child.

Consumer association Codacons said the child's death shows the need for measures to "guarantee citizens' safety and limit the phenomenon of potentially dangerous dogs.

"Aside from the specific case and the dynamics that caused the attack, there is no doubt that there are breeds of dogs that are potentially dangerous for humans, and their spread across the nation is rapidly increasing also due to fashions and trends," Codacons added.

"Regardless of the training given to the animal, it is universally recognized that some breeds can cause lethal injuries if they bite, for example Pit bulls or Rottweilers, due to their special physical characteristics - their power, robustness, and teeth.

"Precisely for this reason we have long been asking for a mandatory license for people owning particularly powerful, potentially dangerous dogs, obviously without demonizing the animals.

"There are about 70,000 attacks on humans by dogs each year, and not all breeds are suitable for everyone".