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WNBA players were near Istanbul attack; all 'accounted for and safe'

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)
A handful of WNBA players, including Essence Carson, Chelsea Gray and Jantel Lavender of the Los Angeles Sparks, were next door to a deadly shooting in a nightclub in Istanbul early Sunday morning.

About two dozen WNBA players are in Turkey during their offseason playing in a league there.

"The attack at Reina in Istanbul was tragic and we send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the victims and their families," league president Lisa Borders said in a statement on Sunday. "The WNBA was in contact with our players in the region after the incident; we are thankful each one of them is safe and accounted for."

An assailant believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year's celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding 69 others in what the province's governor described as a terror attack.Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday that of the victims identified so far, 16 were foreign nationals. He did not provide any information on their countries.

Carson had tweeted earlier in the evening that she was "stuck inside of the club because of 'terror' shooting in Istanbul. Praises to the most high."

The incident occurred a week after the WNBA started offering to its players a phone application to help assist them in trying to stay safe while traveling overseas.

The league has partnered with LiveSafe, a safety communications platform, to provide a mobile security app to its 60-plus players competing in Russia, Turkey, China and other countries this offseason.

ESPN's Melanie Jackson andThe Associated Press contributed to this report.

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