''We had two guards down,'' Bumgarner said. ``We were losing the fight at that point.''
The military showed homemade weapons Friday that the military said came from Camp 5 in the melee: a two-foot light tube, shattered on one end; cameras that had been ripped from the walls; parts of a huge electrical fan, and pieces of metal from the barracks building.
Six detainees were treated for minor injuries, Bumgarner said, including an older detainee who got a blast of pepper spray in an adjacent barracks that staged its own disruption around midnight Thursday.
Several guards suffered ''cuts, scrapes, bruises -- just like a good football game,'' said Bumgarner. No detainee was made available to offer an independent description of the episode; the military also refused a request by The Miami Herald -- the only news outlet on the base Friday -- to tour the camps.
The Navy admiral said there was not even a hint of the coming disruption on Thursday, which began before dawn with 15 long-held Saudi captives leaving the island for their homeland for further investigation and possible trial.
The night before, to celebrate their departure, the admiral had instructed the chefs to prepare a festive meal -- curried chicken, rice, traditional Middle Eastern honey sweets -- and serve it in all the camps, where the Saudis who had departed were scattered.
''There was really good feelings. Everybody was pumped because these guys were leaving,'' the admiral said. ``The guys themselves were pumped because they were leaving.''
Bumgarner attributed the disturbances to a belief in the camps that three of the captives must die here to incite enough ire against the United States to bring sufficient international condemnation on the United States and lead to the closure of Guantánamo.
Word had already passed through the camp that the detainees knew there were news media on the base to cover the first U.S. war-crimes tribunal since World War II.
Harris theorized that the joy over the Saudi departure was cover for more long-range, deeper scheming.
None of the men involved in the disruptions are charged before Military Commissions, Harris said. Prison officials wouldn't provide ages or nationalities of the captives involved. Nor would they give their names.
Harris praised the ''heroic'' performance of the U.S. military medical and security teams, but said he would review how medication is distributed throughout the camps.
Medical staff distribute 1,000 pills a day to 200 to 300 detainees, ranging from psychiatric drugs to aspirin and Tylenol.
Thursday's was the second reported staged suicide spree described by the military at Guantánamo. In January 2005, the military disclosed that more than a year earlier 23 prisoners tried to hang or strangle themselves -- 10 on the same day -- in a sustained, mass protest at the prison.