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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German police detained a suspected child sex abuser on Tuesday after taking the extraordinary step of circulating a photograph of his 4-year-old victim found on the dark web, a prosecutor said.

Bild newspaper said the suspect was identified when the child and her mother saw the images - posted online and shown on television - and went to their local police station.

The man - identified in the media as the woman's 24-year-old boyfriend - was detained hours after the nation-wide manhunt began, and was due to go before a judge later on Tuesday, Frankfurt chief prosecutor Georg Ungefuk said.

The man's apartment in the Wesermarsch district of Lower Saxony was searched and evidence seized.

"The suspect is believed to have seriously sexually abused the child a total of nine times, to have made films of the abuse and then distributed them," Ungefuk said.

Experts had worked on the case since images of the abuse first appeared on the dark web - part of the internet not accessible via search engines - in late July, he said, and authorities took the unusual step of distributing the photograph because they had run out of other options.

(Reporting by Reuters TV and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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