JIZAN, Saudi Arabia – Blood and bullets littered the halls Wednesday of a Saudi housing complex where a shootout with security forces left three suspected militants dead, including a man wanted by the FBI (search) for possible terrorist threats against the United States.
The hours-long gunfight ended Tuesday afternoon after Saudi security forces stormed the three-story complex in Jizan, 600 miles south of the capital, Riyadh (search), shooting their way through the doors.
At least one security officer also died and two suspected militants were arrested, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
An Associated Press reporter saw shot up doors inside the building, blood on the floors and staircase as well as shards of glass and bullet cartridges. Tear gas fumes were still strong after more than 18 hours.
"I was terrified," said a worker at the housing complex who gave only his first name Usman.
The building was deserted by Wednesday morning, although police had set up a checkpoint down the street. People entered the neighboring King Fahd Central Hospital and doctors were seen taking a smoking break in the sun.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that one of the Saudi men killed was Sultan Jubran Sultan al-Qahtani, also known as Zubayr al-Rimi. FBI officials in Washington have linked the 29-year-old Saudi native to possible terror threats against the United States. His name appears on a Saudi list of militants connected to May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh that killed 26 bystanders, according to a Saudi Interior Ministry official.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described al-Rimi as the chief deputy of Abu Bakr al-Azdi, the former top Al Qaeda man in Saudi Arabia who surrendered to Saudi authorities on June 26.
The police raid was intended to capture militants planning a terror attack, according to an official statement on Saudi state television.
Security officials initially said the gunmen had taken several foreign hostages at King Fahd Hospital. The Interior Ministry statement and later television reports did not mention hostages, but Al-Jazeera television's Web site said all hostages were released.
The housing complex housed foreigners -- mostly from the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines and the Far East -- as well as Saudis. The May 12 suicide bombings targeted three expatriate compounds.
The ministry said the building is part of a housing complex for hospital employees. About 3,000 people live in the complex.
Al-Arabiya television quoted a security official as saying at least one of those arrested was on the same list of 19 alleged militants as al-Rimi. The Saudi authorities issued the list after police discovered a cache of weapons in Riyadh in early May.
Saudi officials have said the 19 men were behind the suicide bombings a week later and were in contact with the Al Qaeda terror group. At least 11 of the 19 have been killed or arrested.
The Saudi government has cracked down on Islamic militants since the May 12 bombings. More than 200 suspects have been arrested since then and more than a dozen killed in police raids.
The kingdom has "confronted terrorists, encircled them, disbanded their bases and is still pursuing their criminal remnants and will be victorious, God willing," King Fahd said Tuesday in a speech read on his behalf at a conference in Kazakhstan, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Tuesday's shootout occurred on the Saudi national day, marking the 71st anniversary of the foundation of the kingdom by the Saud family. Al Qaeda and other Muslim militants groups have denounced the Saudi royal family, accusing it of betraying Muslims by its close alliance with the United States.
The FBI issued a bulletin Sept. 5 saying it was searching worldwide for al-Rimi, another Saudi, a Moroccan and a Tunisian in connection with possible terrorist threats against the United States.
The bulletin came as the FBI raised concerns that terrorists might try to poison food or water supplies. Senior bureau officials said Al Qaeda was determined to attack Americans at home even though the organization appeared to have a relatively small U.S. presence.