Burundi Robotics Team Missing After Competition

Two teen on Burundi's national robotics team were last seen crossing the USA border into Canada, this city's police department confirmed Thursday.

The six teens - four males and two females - are shown smiling and posing with Burundi's flag on their team page on the competition's website.

Organizers of an global robotics competition in the USA capital believe the disappearance of six teens from Burundi may have been "self-initiated".

The Metropolitan Police provided NPR with six almost identical police reports, which all state that Bindaba accompanied the teen to the robotics competition at Washington's DAR Constitution Hall.

The president of FIRST Global, the organization that runs the competition, made the initial call to the police about the missing team and has been assisting authorities, according to the group.

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"First Local was fully responsible for supervision of the students", Pauley said Thursday.

"Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global", organisers said, noting that they ensure students get to their dormitories after the competition by providing safe transportation to students staying at Trinity Washington University.

It was not immediately clear why the teenagers would go to Canada, and authorities, who do not suspect foul play, have not offered a potential motive.

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. They are reportedly with members of their family in the U.S., WJLA-TV reported. The mentor told police the teens have one-year visas to stay in the U.S.

Burundi, bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda and Lake Tanganyika, has been plagued by sporadic violence since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term led to street protests.

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Teams of teenage students from more than 150 countries took part in the competition, which was created to encourage careers in math and technology.

All six of the teenagers have one year visas. The teamed ranked 73 after the competition were selected from a school in the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

The chairman of the United Burundian-American Community Association said many in the community believe Canada offers better odds for asylum, with the Trump administration seeking to minimize illegal immigration. "'The country's once vibrant independent media and non governmental organisations have been decimated, and more than 400,000 people have fled the country".

In each report, the team's mentor told police the teens "went missing after the competition and he does not know where [they] could have went".

Hundreds of people have been killed, and hundreds more have disappeared, allegedly the work of Burundi's security forces.

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