Washington, DC – The United States late Friday confirmed the only US casualty in the Mali terror attacks where at least 27 people died today, after 170 people were taken hostage at the Radisson Blu Hotel in West Africa.
US State Department spokesperson John Kirby confirmed in a statement, “US citizen Anita Ashok Datar was killed in Mali on November 20. We offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends. Out of respect for privacy for Ms. Datar’s family, we have no further comment at this time.”
The attack, conducted by at least three people, began this morning in Mali’s capital city of Bamako, with gunmen storming the building. A Pentagon official confirmed today the crisis has ended.
A statement from Datar’s family, shared by the US State Department read, “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. 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. And while we are angry and saddened that she has been killed, we know that she would want to promote education and healthcare to prevent violence and poverty at home and abroad, not intolerance.”
“Anita Ashok 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,” the statement said.
“She worked in Senegal for two years with the Peace Corps (1997-1999), and has 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 organization connecting under served communities with quality health services,” the statement added.
“Of all her accomplishments, she was most proud of her son. She is survived by him, her parents, brother, and many, many friends around the world,” the family noted.
Mali has declared a 10-day state of emergency in the wake of the attack. The US Embassy in Bamako has lifted its “shelter in place,” but still urges Americans to limit their movement around the city and be vigilant.