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BERLIN (Reuters) - German police arrested a number of people suspected of visiting Islamic State-controlled areas in the Middle East and having links to a failed asylum seeker who killed 12 people by driving a truck into crowds last year, Bild newspaper said on Thursday.

Mass-selling Bild said the arrests were made by police carrying out searches targeting individuals who had recently returned from Syria via Turkey.

It also said those arrested were linked to Tunisian Anis Amri, a failed asylum seeker who last year ploughed a truck into a Christmas market in the German capital.

The Berlin Prosecutor General's Office could not be reached for comment, but it said on Twitter: "The General Prosecutor's Office is investigating travels to IS (Islamic State) areas: searches in parts of the city are ongoing."

Amri drove a hijacked truck into a Christmas market in Berlin on Dec. 19, killing 12 people before escaping.

He was shot by Italian police in Milan less than a week after the attack, which exposed failures by intelligence agencies suspecting he was planning an attack but decided to stop monitoring him after concluding he posed no danger.

Security at Christmas markets has been beefed up this year with guards and concrete blocks.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr, Editing by William Maclean)

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Reuters