U.S. police seek Burundi robotics teens
seen at Canada border
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[July 22, 2017]
(Reuters) - U.S. law enforcement
authorities on Friday were seeking six teenagers from Burundi who went
missing after a robotics competition in Washington, two of whom had been
spotted crossing the border into Canada.
The teens, aged 16 to 18, were last seen Tuesday after the FIRST Global
Robotics Challenge, Washington, D.C., police said.
"We have been in touch with the Metropolitan Police Department; they
told us that they are doing what they can to find those teens," Benjamin
Manirakiza, first counselor in the Burundi Embassy in Washington, said
in a phone interview on Friday. "We have confidence in the capacity of
A Washington police spokeswoman said the teenagers' disappearance was
still under investigation on Friday, and declined to say what U.S. state
they were spotted crossing from.
The teens left their hotel room key cards in a chaperone's bag, but took
their clothes with them when they left, according to FIRST Global, the
U.S. non-profit that organized the competition.
Police have said they do not believe foul play was involved.
Two of the teens - Audrey Mwamikazi, 17, and 16-year-old Don Ingabire -
were spotted crossing the United States border into Canada. The other
missing Burundians were named as Nice Munezero, 17; Kevin Sabumukiza,
17; Richard Irakoze, 18; and Aristide Irambona, 18.
Officials at Canada's Border Services Agency, the immigration and
refugee ministry and the Burundian embassy in Ottawa, said they had no
information on the teens' whereabouts.
[to top of second column]
Don Ingabire (L), 16 and Audrey Mwamikazi, 17, members of a teenage
robotics team from the African nation of Burundi, who were reported
missing after taking part in an international competition and later
spotted crossing the United States border into Canada, are seen in
pictures released by the Metropolitan Police Department in
Washington, D.C., U.S. July 20, 2017. Metropolitan Police
Department/Handout via REUTERS
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police declined to comment on the teens'
whereabouts and said that anyone who crossed the border illegally
would be returned to border services.
"Crossing the Canadian border without reporting at a port of entry
is illegal," said spokeswoman Annie Deslile, in an e-mail. "If the
individual who has illegally entered between ports of entry claims
to be a refugee, he/she is then transported to a port of entry."
A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agency
had no information about the missing teens.
High school students from more than 150 countries took part in the
competition. An all-girl squad from Afghanistan drew worldwide
attention when President Donald Trump intervened after they were
denied U.S. visas.
Burundi has long been plagued by civil war and other violence.
Fighting has killed at least 700 people and forced 400,000 from
their homes since April 2015.
(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston and Anna Mehler Paperny in
Toronto; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio)
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