'Star Wars Episode 8' News: ISIS Nears Tatooine Leading to Decline in Tourism to Tunisian Town
As the terrorist organization known as ISIS continues to stretch its tentacles across the Arab world, one unlikely victim is the town of Tataouine in southern Tunisia.
The site was the inspiration for George Lucas' Tatooine, the birthplace of Anakin Skywalker and where his son Luke was raised.
Tataouine, some 60 miles east of the Libyan border, is in the middle of a hotbed of terrorist activity, according to CNN, as ISIS fighters use the area to travel to Libya and back, moving armaments and supplies.
In recent months, before the terror attack at Tunis' Bardo Museum that killed 21 tourists, the country' southern region has seen increased terror activity. Security forces arrested three men in March attempting to cross into Libya to join the ISIS branch there.
In another incident, two arms caches were discovered in the region. CNN reports the weapons, which included a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and 20,000 rounds of ammunition, may have been taken from a Libyan armory.
Following the ouster of dictator Muammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya has collapsed into civil war as different factions vie for power. Among these are Islamic extremists associated with ISIS.
In the area surrounding Tataouine, the iconic desert scenes of the "Star Wars" movies were filmed. To this day, the set for the Lars family homestead, where Luke Skywalker grew up, remains. Fans of the movies flocked to the area to visit it but recent turmoil has led to a decline in tourism.
The Star Wars website details everything related to the films in the area, including nearby towns where shots set in Tatooine took place. The site explains the desert planet was originally named Utapau, but Lucas changed it to Tatooine, in honor of the town that inspired the setting.
Locals depend on tourism, reports CNN, and ISIS's increasing presence worries them.
The U.S. Embassy in Tunisia issued a warning last week, following the Bardo Museum attack, warning U.S. citizens about the country's dangers, including theft and kidnapping.
"All travel south of the designated military zone in the south must be coordinated in advance with Tunisian authorities. Also, travel to either border should be avoided if possible given the periodic security incidents along the border regions," the embassy warned.
Similarly, the U.K. Foreign Office has warned British citizens. The office "advise against all but essential travel to" the south of the country and border regions, explaining "there is a high threat from terrorism."
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