Canadian victims in Burkina Faso attack identified as Tammy Chen, Bilel Diffalah

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WATCH: Two Canadian victims in Burkina Faso attack identified as Tammy Chen and Bilel Diffalah. Ashley Molnàr reports – Aug 14, 2017

Canadians Tammy Chen and Bilel Diffalah were among the victims of an attack at an upscale restaurant in the capital of Burkina Faso.

Local media reports have identified 15 of 18 of the dead, including the pregnant Chen and her husband, Mehsen Fenaich of Senegal.

Global Affairs confirmed the news of Chen’s death on Monday afternoon.

Diffalah was in Burkina Faso working with the Uniterra volunteer cooperation program, whose officials confirmed the news of his death Monday night.

Tammy Chen

Chen, who is an Ontario resident, was studying at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and had previously studied at Queen’s and McGill Universities, according to her Facebook page.

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READ MORE: 2 Canadians among 18 killed in Burkina Faso restaurant attack

In 2012, she co-founded a charity called Bright Futures of Burkina Faso, which supports a Burkinabe elementary school and offers opportunities to local women, according to Chen’s LinkedIn page.

She previously worked at the Toronto District School Board, which remembered her as “passionate and charismatic” in a statement.

“Tammy is being remembered as a very passionate, charismatic and diligent teacher by her colleagues at Glen Ames, where she taught in the French Immersion Program,” the statement read.

“Not only was she respected and well-liked by students, parents and colleagues, she was always willing to go the extra mile to help students. The TDSB, together with the Glen Ames Senior Public School Community, is deeply saddened by her passing and our thoughts are with her family, friends and those that knew her.”

Bilel Diffalah

Diffalah was working as a hygiene and biosecurity advisor with the Uniterra program, which fights poverty in the area and is run by the Montreal-based Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CESI) and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

Officials said he was a dedicated worker.

“Bilel was a very dedicated volunteer. He was respected both by his colleagues and by the partner organization with whom he was working,” Fatimata Lankoande, coordinator of the Uniterra program, said in a statement.

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“In our experience, he had always shown exemplary behaviour as a Canadian volunteering overseas.”

“CECI and WUSC wish to extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bilel and to all those affected by Sunday’s attack,” Uniterra director Odette McCarthy said in a statement.


The incident happened late Sunday when suspected Islamic extremists opened fire at a Turkish restaurant in the country’s capital.

Assailants arrived at the Aziz Istanbul in Ouagadougou around 9 p.m. Sunday night on motorcycles. The restaurant, which is known to tourists, was reportedly packed.

It took over 7 hours for the country’s Special Forces to halt the attack, leaving the two assailants dead.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the hallmarks of the January 2016 assault on the Cappuccino restaurant, when 6 Canadians and 24 others were killed.

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Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed that two Canadians were among the victims.

“The heartfelt condolences of our government go out to the loved ones of those targeted and the victims of this tragic attack,” she said Monday.

WATCH: Foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland offered condolences to the families of two Canadians who died in an attack at a restaurant in Burkina Faso on Sunday.

Click to play video: 'Government confirms death of two Canadians in Burkina Faso attack' Government confirms death of two Canadians in Burkina Faso attack
Government confirms death of two Canadians in Burkina Faso attack – Aug 14, 2017

She says Canadian consular officials are working hard to provide assistance to the families of the victims.

In addition to Chen, local media have identified the following victims:

  • Lieutenant Marc Stéphane Tiendrébeogo, Inzidore Manga Zongo, Abdoulaye Diallo, Victoria Sana, Inoussa Kikieta, Mme Napon and Issa Tanon of Burkina Faso
  • Mehsen Fenaich of Senegal
  • Rashid Mama of Nigeria
  • El Beli Ahmad of Lebanon
  • Thierry Henry Gouy of France
  • Mehmet Faith of Turkey
  • Faraad Al Houssine and Walled Ahmad of Kuwait

The attack was similar to a January 2016 attack at another cafe that left 30 people dead, including six Canadians.

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READ MORE: Trudeau to attend funeral for Quebecers killed in Burkina Faso attacks

Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.

*with a file from the Canadian Press

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