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Robotics Team Disappears After U.S. Competition

(Last Updated On: July 21, 2017 12:42 pm)

The U.S. police were searching on Thursday for six African teenagers who were reported missing from a global robotics competition in Washington, the New York Times reported.

U.S. Police officials confirmed that two members of the robotics team from Burundi, Don Ingabire, 16, and Audrey Mwamikazi, 17, were seen entering Canada, but their destination and current location remained unknown.

It was unclear where the remaining team members were. They were identified as Aristide Irambona, 18; Nice Munezero, 17; Kevin Sabumukiza, 17; and Richard Irakoze, 18.

Burundi Robotics Team was last seen in Washington on Tuesday night near the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, where the robotics competition took place.

The team’s mentor, Canesius Bindaba, reported their disappearance after he returned to the dormitories where they were staying, assuming the teenagers had taken a different shuttle bus after the closing ceremony.

The Burundi Embassy in Washington said in an email that officials there had not known there was a team from their country in the United States until after the teenagers were reported missing.

In June, the State Department issued a travel warning for Americans going to Burundi, located between Rwanda and Tanzania, citing “political tensions, political and criminal violence, and the potential for civil unrest.” 

More than 325,000 Burundians have fled the country since 2015, mostly to Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Human Rights Watch.

The First Global competition made international headlines after the all-girl team from Afghanistan struggled to get visas to attend the event, advertised as an international robotics Olympics.

Students from more than 150 countries participated in the competition, organizers said. It is scheduled to take place in Mexico City next year.

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