ROME - Italy's social fabric is being torn by recession and tensions are growing among its citizens, Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday.

Speaking to a group of students in the central Italian town of Arezzo, Monti urged Italians to stick together and "not give up" in the face of a shrinking economy and rising unemployment.

Monti's technocrat government has imposed painful austerity measures since taking office last year, and in recent days ministers have responded to calls from politicians and the media to show more compassion for the plight of ordinary Italians.

"The country is now marked by profound social tensions," Monti said. "It's inevitable that social unease is increasing, that job insecurity fuels a sense of suffering, that there are serious signs of tears in social cohesion."

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger