A police patrol car is seen outside a hospital where injured inmates were taken following a shootout among inmates at La Joyita prison, in Panama City. Picture: Erick Marciscano/Reuters

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

Thirteen others were injured, two of them seriously, Panama's deputy police chief Alexis Munoz told journalists.

The violence at the La Joyita prison, which faces overcrowding and alleged systematic abuses against inmates, was apparently 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.

An injured inmate is carried on a stretcher into a hospital by police paramedics after a shootout among inmates at La Joyita prison, in Panama City. Picture: Erick Marciscano/Reuters

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.

Police officers keep watch outside a hospital where injured inmates were taken following a shootout among inmates at La Joyita prison, in Panama City. Picture: Erick Marciscano/Reuters

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

An injured inmate is carried on a stretcher into a hospital by police paramedics after a shootout among inmates at La Joyita prison, in Panama City. Picture: Erick Marciscano/Reuters
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