Bucharest: Romanian prosecutors have opened an investigation after a local extremist group launched a call to sterilise Roma women, the Agerpres news agency reported on Saturday.

The probe targets the offence of “promoting fascist and racist ideology”, prosecutors from the western town of Timisoara told Agerpres.

Earlier this week, NAT88, a nationalist and extremist group based in Timisoara, announced on its website that it would hand “a reward worth 300 lei (Dh330) to each Gypsy woman (a pejorative term in Romanian) from the region of Banat that shows a medical document proving that she voluntarily underwent sterilisation in 2013.”

Three Romanian rights groups condemned the call and asked prosecutors to open an investigation.

“Sterilising women belonging to an ethnic group is a serious attack on that group and on society generally, regardless of the way this is promoted,” the Elie Wiesel Institute, Romania’s main NGO fighting for Roma rights, Romani Criss, and the Centre for Combating Anti-Semitism (MCA) said in a joint statement.

Romania is home to the biggest Roma community in Europe, numbering 620,000 according to the latest census but up to two million, according to its leaders. Most live in poverty and suffer from severe discrimination in employment and health care.