White House candidates with ties to American killed in Mali express sympathies

White House candidates with ties to the American woman killed in the Mali terror attacks expressed their sympathies Saturday and praised her efforts to help others around the world.

The victim, Anita Ashok Datar, was born in western Massachusetts but raised in New Jersey, where she attended public high school and Rutgers, the state university.

“Mary Pat and I send our condolences and prayers to the Datar family and to all the families of the victims in Mali,” GOP candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a tweet from him and his wife.

The 41-year-old Datar was one of at least 19 people killed in Friday's terror attack on a hotel in Mali, according to the State Department.

No other U.S. citizens are believed to have died in the attack, carried out by heavily armed Islamic extremists at a Radisson hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako.

"We are devastated that Anita is gone," Datar's family said in a statement issued through the State Department. "It's unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism."

Datar was a senior manager at Palladium Group, an international development organization with offices in Washington, her family said.

As a public health expert, Datar focused on family planning and HIV issues, work that took her to Africa often in the past 15 years. She also worked in Asia and South America, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Datar, also a former Peace Corps volunteer, leaves behind a 7-year-old boy.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said Datar’s former partner, attorney David Garten, was a senior policy adviser for her in the Senate.

"Anita Datar was a bright light who gave help and hope to people in need around the world," Clinton said in a statement on Saturday. "Anita represented the best of America's generous spirit."

The family said that of all her accomplishments, Datar was "most proud of her son." Her Facebook page is filled with pictures of the boy.

She worked in Senegal with the Peace Corps for more than two years and earned master's degrees in public health and public administration from Columbia University in New York.

In addition to her son, parents and a brother, she is survived by "many, many friends around the world," the family also said.

Clinton said Datar's death should strengthen Americans' will to fight terrorism and radical jihadism.

"We face a choice between fear and resolve," she said. "Anita's murder should deepen our resolve. America must lead the world to meet this threat."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.