African robotics team goes missing after competition in Washington, D.C.

After the entire Burundi robotics team went missing after an international competition in Washington, two of the teens have been reportedly found in Canada.

The six teens from the East African country were unaccounted for following the final matches in the  FIRST Global Challenge in Washington, D.C., a competition that ushered in teens representing 157 nations, the Washington Post reported.

Don Charu Ingabire, 16, and Audrey Mwamikazi, 17 were found in Canada, according to D.C. police spokeswoman, and the four others have been found safe though no other details were provided.

The team was reported missing around 5pm on Tuesday, just before the closing of the event.

Image via Washington Post

Richard Irakoze, 18, Kevin Sabumukiza, 17, Nice Munezero, 17 and Aristide Irambona, 18 comprised the rest of the teens who could not be found by their adult mentor, Canesius Bindaba, following the event. According to police reports, Bindaba had told authorities that “he does not know where (they) could have went,” CNN reported.

FIRST Global President Joe Sestak, a former Navy admiral and congressman, alerted police after word that the students were not on site. Police posted fliers of the missing teens, tweeting the names, ages, descriptions and photos of the four missing boys and two missing girls.

Two of the teens were seen leaving the US for Canada, Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Aquita Brown told CNN. And while D.C. police said on Thursday that the teens were safe, and the other four were found and also safe, no other information was yet available.

“We haven’t been informed of anything,” Jose P. Escotto, spokesman for the group said early Thursday. Burundi Embassy officials in Washington also had no other information though they confirmed they were aware of the situation, according to the Washington Post.

A travel warning was issued last month by the State Department advising Americans of “political tensions, political and criminal violence, and the potential for civil unrest” in Burundi which has seen  more than 400,000 people flee the country amid civil war and alleged human rights abuses, according to the Post.

The FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition was attended Tuesday by Ivanka Trump, who met with the all-girl six member team from Afghanistan. The team members made headlines when they were initially denied visas to attend the competition until President Trump intervened.

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Frieda Powers

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