Six teenage members of the Burundi robotics team went missing after participating this week in an international competition in Washington, D.C., local police said Thursday. The competition—titled the FIRST Global Robotics Challenge—previously garnered attention after a team from Afghanistan was twice denied entry to the United States. President Trump later facilitated the approval of their visa requests, and the team went on to win a silver medal for courageous achievement.
As the competition came to a close on Tuesday, the Burundi team chaperone looked for his team members at the Trinity Washington University dorms, where they were staying. Instead, he found their bags packed and their keys returned to him. The last time the teenagers were spotted was at the competition that afternoon. The following day, local authorities posted missing person photographs of the teens, whose ages range from 16 to 18.
On Thursday, a D.C. spokeswoman said two of the team members—16-year-old Don Ingabire and 17-year-old Audrey Mwamikazi—were spotted crossing over into Canada. The sighting appeared to confirm authorities’ suspicion that the teens were intentionally seeking asylum from their home country. “We don’t have any indication of foul play,” said spokeswoman Margarita Mikhaylova. The competition’s organizers added that the security of students is “of paramount importance,” and that participants are given safe transportation to and from the Trinity dorms. They, too, believe the teenagers’ disappearance may have been “self-initiated.”