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German police have broken up one of the world's biggest child porn networks which linked around 26,500 suspected users of child abuse material in 166 countries across the world.

Investigators said members of the ring were traced from email distribution lists seized last year from a man in the German city of Magdeburg.

"One of the biggest internationally active networks has been smashed," said Curt Becker, justice minister for the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, Reuters reports.

Suspected members of the ring include individuals in the US, Australia, Switzerland and Germany. The 530 Germans - all men - suspected of possession or trafficking in child porn include police officials, a border guard and "many teachers and educators," according to Juergen Konrad, attorney-general for Saxony-Anhalt. In German police raids this week more than 500 addresses were raided and hundreds of PCs, 35,500 CDs, 8,300 diskettes and 5,800 videos seized in operations involving 1,500 police officers.

One photograph seized showed a baby of four months being abused, Reuters reports.

According to The Times “at least 200 British suspects” were under investigation by UK police, after their details were sent by the German authorities. ®

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