New Jersey Native Anita Datar Killed in Mali Terror Attack
The American killed in the terror attack on a hotel in Mali was raised in New Jersey.
The Washington Post reports Anita Datar of Takoma Park, Maryland graduated from Mount Olive High School in Flanders in 1991 and earned her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University. She earned a master's in public health and a master's in public administration.
ABC 7 reports Datar grew up in Monmouth County.
A statement from the family of the 41-year-old notes that she was a senior manager at Palladium International Development and the mother of a young son.
The State Department confirmed that Datar was among at least 20 killed in the terror attack Friday in a hotel in Mali's capital. She was the only American known to have died in the attack.
In its statement, the family said everything Datar did, "she did to help others - as a mother, public health expert, daughter, sister and friend."
But of "all her accomplishments," it said, "she was most proud of her son."
Datar worked in global health and international development for nearly 15 years, focusing on population and reproductive health, family planning, and HIV, according to her LinkedIn profile. Her work took her to countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guyana, India, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, and Zambia.
She spent two years in Africa with the Peace Corps before continuing on to her career, eventually becoming a founding founding board member of Tulalans, a nonprofit group that aimed to help poor women in India make informed choices about health care.
The Associated Press reports Malian security forces were hunting "more than three" suspects on Saturday after the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital that killed 20 people plus two assailants.
Friday's attack in Bamako was claimed by an extremist group formed by Algerian militant Moktar Belmoktar. The statement from the Al-Mourabitoun (The Sentinels) group was carried by the Al-Jazeera network and said the assault was in cooperation with al-Qaida's "Sahara Emirate," according to the AP.
Friday morning, armed assailants shouting "God is great!" in Arabic burst into the complex and opened fire on guards before seizing dozens of hostages at the hotel popular with foreigners, sparking a more than seven-hour siege by Malian troops backed by U.S. and French special forces.
Hostages trickled out slowly during the siege as security forces worked to secure the hotel floor by floor. At least one guest reported the attackers instructed him to recite verses from the Quran as proof of his Muslim faith before he was allowed to leave.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story