Burundi's Robotics Team Goes Missing After First Global Competition in DC

6 teenagers from African robotics team missing after competition in DC

Two members of an African robotics team who were reported missing from an worldwide robotics competition in Washington, D.C. were spotted crossing into Canada on Thursday morning, authorities said.

Four boys and two girls are missing.

The four males and two females were last seen late on Tuesday afternoon when the robotics contest ended at the FIRST Global Challenge, police said.

The three-day robotics competition in Washington, DC involved over 160 teams from 150 countries, and was meant to encourage youth across the world to pursue careers in math and science. Police said the group was last seen together near the DAR Constitution Hall in D.C.at about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global".

During the competition, the students were staying in a dormitory on the Trinity Washington University campus, but a Univeristy spokesperson said FIRST Global had full responsibility for the students.

There are no indications of foul play, police said.

Police tweeted images of the teens on Wednesday, saying they are looking for 17-year-old girls, Mwamikazi and Nice Munezero; Richard Irakoze and Aristide Irambona, both 18; Kevin Sabumukiza, 17; and Ingabire, 16.

6 teenagers from African robotics team missing after competition in DC
What Happened To Burundi Robotics Team? 6 Teens Missing After Competition In Washington

An all-girl squad from Afghanistan drew worldwide media attention to the competition when President Donald Trump intervened after they were denied United States visas. The mentor told police the teens have one-year visas to stay in the U.S.

The east African nation of Burundi has been shaken by violence since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza made a decision to circumvent the constitutional two-term limit and run for another term.

The competition in the US capital, which is created to encourage youths to pursue careers in math and science, attracted teams of teenagers from more than 150 nations. Bindaba stated that "he does not know where (they) could have went", the police reports said. A previous version erroneously said the two Burundi teens would not fall under the Canada-U.S.

Immigration attorneys said an asylum application could take years to sort out. Burundi Embassy officials in Washington also had no other information though they confirmed they were aware of the situation, according to the Washington Post.

Burnundi residents face widespread human rights abuses, including murder, rape and torture by political groups, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Canadian government has faced pressure to repeal the agreement, with many arguing it is the reason asylum-seekers have crossed the border on foot, to bypass border points so they could make their refugee claims once already in the country.

Participants compete in the First Global International Robot Olympics on Monday.

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