Four American reporters covering national elections in Panama were taken into custody by authorities Tuesday night in the capital and detained for about two hours, the journalists said.

William Branigin of the Washington Post, Charles Lane of Newsweek magazine, Philip Bennett of the Boston Globe and Ken Freed of the Los Angeles Times said they were driving through downtown Panama City when riot police stopped them. Freed and Branigin were handcuffed together while being taken to military headquarters.The four were released unharmed after about two hours. Authorities apologized for their detenion, saying it was a misunderstanding.