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Picture of bruised Rihanna sparks police probe

 In this photo released by TMZ.com, R&B singer Rihanna is shown shortly after her alleged assault February 8, 2009. R&B star Chris Brown, who was arrested last weekend on suspicion of attacking a woman widely believed to be the pop star Rihanna, said on Sunday he was
In this photo released by TMZ.com, R&B singer Rihanna is shown shortly after her alleged assault February 8, 2009. R&B star Chris Brown, who was arrested last weekend on suspicion of attacking a woman widely believed to be the pop star Rihanna, said on Sunday he was 'sorry and saddened' about the incident, and was seeking counseling. REUTERS/TMZ.com/Handout
— image credit: Reuters

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The first picture of a bruised and bloodied Rihanna after her alleged assault by singer Chris Brown has surfaced on the Internet, prompting an investigation by Los Angeles police into how it was leaked.

Celebrity website TMZ.com said its photo of the Barbados-born singer, who turned 21 on Friday, was taken after she was beaten on February 8 after leaving a pre-Grammy Awards party with R&B star Brown, her boyfriend of more than a year.

It shows the "Umbrella" singer with her eyes closed and her lower lip bloodied and swollen. There are also bruises and blood streaks on her cheek and two long, thin marks on her forehead.

"At the request of the authorities, Rihanna is not commenting about the incident involving Chris Brown," her representatives said in a statement on Friday.

"She wants to assure her fans that she remains strong, is doing well, and deeply appreciates the outpouring of support she has received during this difficult time."

Police and prosecutors have not officially disclosed that Rihanna was the victim of Brown's assault, although she has been widely named in numerous media stories and Friday's statement appeared to indicate that.

Brown, 19, who had hits with "Run It!" and "Forever," was arrested on February 8 on suspicion of making criminal threats against a woman and prosecutors are deciding whether to file charges against him.

The clean-cut, rising star with a huge teen fan base said last week he was "sorry and saddened" about the incident and was seeking counseling.

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the leak of the photo from its files, saying in a statement it "takes seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence."

The photo of Rihanna was "disturbing," her father Ronald Fenty told Us magazine on Friday.

"It's good and it's bad to see the picture because there's other people who were thinking differently, that (Rihanna's injuries) may not be that bad, just a little spank or a little thing," Fenty told the magazine.

Both Rihanna and Brown pulled out of scheduled performances at the Grammys after the incident and have canceled other appearances. Rihanna was reported to be in Barbados recently.

People magazine on Friday posted a photo on its website that it said was of Rihanna wearing sunglasses in a car in Los Angeles.

(Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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