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 worldwide 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.
But the circumstances surrounding their disappearance suggest that at least some may have left the competition venue seeking to stay in North America.
They were reported missing on Tuesday, the same day as the event's closing ceremony.
"The four others also are believed to be in safe hands", the Post reported, "but authorities declined to provide further details".
Two of the teens - 16-year-old Don Ingabire and 17-year-old Audrey Mwamikazi - were last seen leaving the USA into Canada, the Metropolitan Police Department tells The Two-Way, adding that there is "no indication of foul play". In their reports, D.C. Police say the teens all have one-year visas.
FIRST Global is run by Joe Sestak, a former Navy admiral and congressman, who called police after receiving word the team had gone missing.
A spokesman for the group, Jose Escotto, said on Thursday that he could not confirm that authorities had located the teens. Burundi Embassy officials in Washington also had no other information though they confirmed they were aware of the situation, according to the Washington Post. Following a controversial third term by President Pierre Nkurunziza, the country spiraled into chaos.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning in late June about the African nation, advising Americans of "political tensions, political and criminal violence, and the potential for civil unrest". "Rebel forces, ex-combatants and youth gangs have crossed into Burundi from the Democratic Republic of Congo and attacked and kidnapped civilians". "The country's once vibrant independent media and nongovernmental organizations have been decimated, and more than 400,000 people have fled the country".
Ann Pauley, a spokeswoman for the university, referred all questions to FIRST Global.
"First Local was fully responsible for supervision of the students", Pauley said Thursday.
The keys to the students' rooms at Trinity Washington University were left in the mentor's bag and their clothes had been taken from the rooms, the organization said.
However, it made the news earlier this month after a team of girls from Afghanistan were initially not allowed to attend the competition because of visa problems. Organizers had previously hosted domestic competitions, but this was the first worldwide event.