Police officers keep watch outside a hospital where injured inmates were taken following a shootout among inmates at La Joyita prison, in Panama City, Panama December 17, 2019. REUTERS-Erick Marciscano

At least 12 people have been killed in an exchange of gunfire in a prison outside Panama City, the Police said on Tuesday.

13 others were injured, two of them seriously, Panama’s Deputy Police, Chief Alexis Munoz, said.

The violence at the La Joyita prison, which faces overcrowding and alleged systematic abuses against inmates, was related to rivalry between gangs inside the facility.

Several weapons were confiscated, including assault rifles, local media reported.


Rioting in penal institutions is not uncommon in Latin America.

In Honduras, the government declared a state of emergency in the country’s prisons on Tuesday.

Prison authorities were replaced by an army commission that will stay for six months, local media reported.

Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez’s government took the decision following several killings and other violent incidents in the Central American country’s prisons.

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