Police have arrested 39 people in an international operation against a major network of people sharing images of child pornography.

Spanish officials say the paedophile ring used the online messaging service WhatsApp to distribute the images.

They said files showed abusive and brutal treatment of children up to eight years old.

Hundreds of devices containing pornographic material have been seized, according to Europol.

Police said the network operated about 100 private chat groups on WhatsApp involving 135 people from 18 different countries in Europe, Central America and South America.

The majority of the arrests took place in Spain, where 17 people were detained by the police.

The other arrests took place in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Portugal.

The operation was carried out in coordination with the international law enforcement agencies Interpol and Europol.

(c) Sky News 2017: Police break up WhatsApp network sharing child sex abuse images

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