Indian-American Anita Datar Killed in Mali Terrorist Attack

The 41-year-old from Takoma Park, Maryland, worked in international development. She left behind a young son. (Washington Post)
The 41-year-old from Takoma Park, Maryland, worked in international development. She left behind a young son. (Washington Post)

WASHINGTON:  An Indian-American woman is among at least 27 people killed during a deadly siege of a Mali hotel by Islamic extremists.

Anita Ashok Datar, 41, is the sole US citizen to have been killed in the attack yesterday, State Department Spokesman John Kirby said.

“We mourn American Anita Datar and all those lost in Mali Attacks,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a tweet yesterday.

“We extend condolences to family & friends and stand with the Malian people,” he said.

In a statement released through the US State Department, Ms Datar’s family said that they are devastated by the news.

“We are devastated that Anita is gone-it’s unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism,” the family said.

Anita Dater lived in Takoma Park in Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC.

“Anita was one of the kindest and most generous people we know. She loved her family and her work tremendously,” the statement said.

As word spread among friends and colleagues, Datar’s death touched off a wave of mourning that on Saturday reached from colleagues in Washington and neighbors in Maryland to the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The world is a darker place without your light,” one stunned friend wrote on Datar’s Facebook page Saturday. “I am praying for your little boy.”

Her family issued a statement Friday voicing similar devastation.
“It’s unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism,” her brother Sanjeev Datar said in the statement. “Anita was one of the kindest and most generous people we know. She loved her family and her work tremendously.

Everything she did in her life she did to help others – as a mother, public health expert, daughter, sister and friend.”

Ms Datar was born in western Massachusetts and grew up in northern New Jersey.

She earned an MPH and MPA from Columbia University’s Joseph Mailman School of Public Health and School of International and Public Affairs.

She worked in Senegal for two years with the Peace Corps (1997-1999) and spent much of her career working to advance global health and international development, with a focus on population and reproductive health, family planning and HIV.

She was a senior manager at Palladium Group and a founding member of Tulalens, a not-for-profit organisation connecting underserved communities with quality health services.

Armed extremists stormed Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital town locking in 170 people, killing at least 27 of them. Twenty captured Indians were evacuated without any harm.

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