A town that was once at the center of a conflict in a galaxy far, far away has become a notable locale in a far more serious real-world struggle.
The area around Tataouine, a town in Tunisia that doubled as the desert planet Tatooine in the original Star Wars, has become a way station for jihadists attempting to cross the Libyan border just 60 miles away, according to a CNN report.
CNN says that not only have two arms caches been found in the area this month — including more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition as well as rocket-propelled grenade launchers — but three men were arrested in the town ahead of an attempt to cross the border into Libya with the intent to join a terrorist network.
A Tunisian national guard officer quoted in the CNN piece notes that, as the threat of ISIS grows, Tunisians feel concerned about their security, leading to the creation of a 12-mile buffer zone along the border between the countries, in addition to a ban on men between the ages of 18 and 35 being allowed to travel into Libya without residence papers and proof of employment.
Concerns about the area’s safety are such that the British Foreign Office has issued a warning for tourists not to visit, with the exception of “essential travel,” noting that “there is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping,” and that “attacks could be indiscriminate.”
Although previous installments of the Star Wars franchise had used Tunisia as the real-world location for Tatooine, Star Wars: The Force Awakens instead shot in Abu Dhabi. At the time, a source told THR that the shift was due to Tunisia being too dangerous for such a sizable Hollywood production.