Tammy Chen, right, and her husband Mehsen Fenaiche

Gonville & Caius College has paid tribute to Tammy Chen, a PhD student who was among 18 victims of a gun attack at a restaurant in Burkina Faso on Sunday.

Chen, from Ontario, Canada, and her husband Mehsen Fenaiche, of Senegal, were both identified as victims in local media reports. The pair had recently married, and Chen was pregnant at the time of her death.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Caius said “College extends deepest sympathy to family of ‘exceptional’ Caius PhD student Tammy Chen, killed in Burkina Faso terror attack Sunday”.

The attack took place on Sunday evening in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital. The gunmen, who local officials have said they believe to be jihadists, shot at customers on the terrace outside the Aziz Istanbul café, killing 18 people, eight of whom have been identified as foreign nationals. The BBC reported that three victims remain unidentified.

Two attackers were killed in a police siege which lasted until the early hours of Monday morning. No organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Before coming to Caius to study for a PhD in International Development at POLIS, specialising in poverty, gender and women’s empowerment, Chen had previously attended the universities of McGill and Queen’s, both in Canada.

Professor Alan Fersht, master of Caius, said Chen was “an exceptional woman, very active in the Caius graduate community and passionate about her research and helping people. She had so much to offer the world and it is a tragedy for her to be lost so young.”

Caius MCR President Hugo Larose said: “I was devastated to hear about Tammy's loss. All of Tammy's friends echo that she was extraordinarily kind and caring, that she was the sort of person that the world sorely needs in times such as these, who would have made a real difference in this world, and whose loss will be sorely felt. Though many academics dedicate their life to improving the human condition, Tammy went many steps further, working tirelessly in the some of the poorest parts of the world. She was the heart and soul of our MCR during her years in Cambridge, and had many close friends here at Caius. We are all in shock.”

The College said Fersht will raise funds to set up a studentship in Chen’s name, to honour her memory. The Caius college flag will fly at half-mast today to mark her death.

The University released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying “Our thoughts are with her family and many friends at the university and throughout the world.”

Eilís Ferran, pro-vice-chancellor for institutional and international relations, said: “The tragedy of Tammy Chen’s death will be felt by her many friends within the University and the wider academic community. Her studies and charity work embodied the values this University upholds. She looked beyond the walls of academia and sought to improve the lives of women in some of the poorest areas of the world. We send our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.”

According to her social media profiles, she had held a research position at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and had previously volunteered at Jimmy’s, a shelter for the homeless in Cambridge.

She was the founder of ‘Bright Futures of Burkina Faso’, a Canadian non-profit organisation focusing on education initiatives in the African country.

The Toronto District School Board described her as “passionate and charismatic” in a statement.

Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, president of Burkina Faso, condemned Sunday’s attack as “cowardly”, and said the country’s people would not give in to terrorism.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to Burkina Faso, following attacks against foreigners and abductions which have occurred in recent years.