A man, 29, will appear in court on indecent treatment charges after allegedly grabbing a teenage girl from behind in a Cairns shopping centre.

A 14-year-old girl fought off a man who grabbed her from behind in a busy far north Queensland shopping centre, police say.

The teenager had become separated from her family at Cairns Central Shopping Centre on Friday morning when the man allegedly grabbed her from behind and pulled her against him.

The girl struggled and screamed before her attacker released her and ran away.

Police found the 29-year-old man shortly after the alleged assault. He was still in the shopping centre.

He’s been charged with indecent treatment of a child under 16 and will be appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on Saturday.