6 from Burundi robotics team reported missing in Washington

Members of the Team Burundi team in

Six teens from Burundi were reported missing this week in D.C., where they were visiting to participate in an worldwide robotics competition.

But the circumstances surrounding their disappearance suggest that at least some may have left the competition venue seeking to stay in North America.

The missing team members were identified by police as Richard Irakoze, 18, Kevin Sabumukiza, 17, Nice Munezero, 17, Aristide Irambona, 18, Don Ingabire, 16, and Audrey Mwamikazi, 17.

Police indicated that the other four teens were also believed to be in safe hands, the Washington Post reported.

The other four members of the team are reported to be Richard Irakoze, 18, Kevin Sabumukiza, 17, Nice Munezero, 17 and Aristide Irambona, 18.

Competition organizers learned Tuesday night the team's mentor couldn't find the six students who participated in the competition, and FIRST Global President Joe Sestak, a former congressman, made the initial call to the police, according to a statement from the organization.




Police reports say the mentor said the teens traveled from Burundi for the competition and have one-year visas, but he doesn't know where the teens went.

The six teens were last reported seen at the location of the event - DAR Constitution Hall on 18th St between C Street and D Street in Northwest DC - the Metropolitan Police Department said. Following a controversial third term by President Pierre Nkurunziza, the country spiraled into chaos.

Officials from the Burundi Embassy in Washington told Fox News on Thursday that they were aware of the situation but did not provide any additional details. The government issued a warning in June cautioning USA citizens against traveling to Burundi "due to political tensions, political and criminal violence and the potential for civil unrest".

That warning stated that rebel forces, ex-combatants and youth gangs from the Democratic Republic of Congo had reportedly attacked and kidnapped civilians, while armed groups have ambushed vehicles.

Residents face widespread human rights abuses, including murder, rape and torture by political groups, according to Human Rights Watch. "The country's once vibrant independent media and nongovernmental organizations have been decimated, and more than 400,000 people have fled the country". She confirmed that the organization rented residence hall space for some of the visiting teams. "Trinity was notified of the missing Burundi team and is fully cooperating with the investigation".

Sixty percent of the teams participating in the competition were founded, led or organized by women. Organizers had previously hosted domestic competitions, but this was the first worldwide event.

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