The FIRST Global robotics competition is being held later this month. File picture: Daniel Estrin/AP

Dakar, Senegal - The United States has denied visas to five teenage students from Gambia who are competing in a prestigious international robotics contest in Washington.

Team leader and government official Mucktarr Darboe says the teens are disappointed, calling the decision unfair.

The Gambia team says they received no explanation for the April visa denials. The US Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Gambia and Afghanistan were the only two countries among more than 160 that did not get visas.

Gambia recently ousted a dictator by electing a president who promises democratic reforms.

The government of the largely Muslim West African nation has provided funds for the team to reapply, and they will interview again at the embassy Wednesday.

The FIRST Global robotics competition is being held later this month.

Associated Press