A German man has admitted kidnapping and murdering a four-year-old refugee boy, who had also reportedly been sexually abused.

The 32-year-old suspect, who has not been named, confessed to killing another child after being arrested yesterday at his family's home in Brandenburg, near Berlin.

Police had been waiting for him to arrive after his mother turned him in.

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A man lights a candle at a memorial site for the killed 4-year-old Bosnian migrant boy Mohamed Januzi at the State Office of Health and Welfare (Lageso) in Berlin, Germany, on 30 October

A spokesperson for the state prosecutor said his previous victim was a six-year-old boy called Elias, who went missing while playing near his parent’s house in nearby Potsdam in July.

German media reported that Elias’ body had been buried at an allotment, where police are now said to be digging to recover his remains.

A huge investigation had been launched after the boy vanished but CCTV analysis, interviews, public appeals for information and search operations from the air, land and in rivers had not found a trace.

Mohamed disappeared from outside a refugees’ reception centre on 1 October and was seen on CCTV footage leaving with an unidentified man, being led away while holding his hand.

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Police are digging in an allotment in Luckenwalde to find the body of the man's previous victim

The four-year-old’s decomposing body was found in the boot of the suspect’s car yesterday after the man was reported to police by his mother.

Investigators said that the suspect told them he had killed the boy the day after his abduction but did not elaborate on how he died. 

Mohamed was from Bosnia and Herzegovina and had been waiting outside the Lageso reception centre with his mother and siblings as the family waited to be registered, Berlin authorities said.

They have not speculated on a motive, but said there is no evidence that the suspect was xenophobic or had links to far-right groups. 

Increasing violence is being directed at refugees in Germany, where centres and housing have been daubed with neo-Nazi graffiti and set on fire, while politicians supporting the resettlement of asylum seekers have been attacked.

Aid agencies have long warned of the dangers faced by children among the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers journeying from the Middle East and Africa to Europe.

“The response to this crisis at the European level is progressing at a painstakingly slow pace,” a spokesperson for Save the Children said, listing dangers including sexual abuse, violence, exploitation and trafficking.

Additional reporting by AP