Who Was Anita Datar? The American Aid Worker Killed In The Mali Hotel Attacks Was Devoted To Helping Others

On Friday, an American family received the call most can't fathom outside of nightmares: Their mother, their sister, their daughter, who had committed her life to helping others, had been killed in an attack. Gunmen killed 20 people when they seized a luxury hotel in Mali on Friday, including one U.S. citizen. So who was Anita Datar, the Maryland woman and only known American killed in the attack?

Datar was a global health expert who worked with the Palladium Group, an international development firm based in Washington, D.C. She was no stranger to Africa, where she was killed. She spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal and made frequent trips to the continent for her job, which focused on HIV prevention and family planning.

Datar was mother to a second grader, whose pictures flood her Facebook page. She is survived by her son, her brother, and her parents. Her brother, Sanjeev Datar, issued a statement Friday night:

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.

The death was personal for Hillary Clinton, who knew Datar from her time in the Senate. Datar's ex-husband was one of Clinton's senior policy advisors. Clinton issued a statement on Saturday:

I knew Anita as the loving mother of a wonderful seven-year old boy and the former partner of David Garten, one of my senior policy advisors in the Senate. My prayers are with the Datar and Garten families, especially Anita and David's son. My heart breaks thinking of the burden he will now bear on his small shoulders and the courage he will have to show in the days ahead.

President Obama said that the U.S. is still accounting for Americans who may have been at the hotel in Bamako, but Datar is believed to be the only American casualty. Two of Datar's coworkers were evacuated safely from the hotel, according to Palladium.