Police arrested a gunman who stormed an abortion clinic in the central United States and opened fire with a rifle in an attack that killed three people and wounded nine others.

The dead included one police officer and two civilians, Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey told reporters after the suspect had been captured on Friday.

The suspect was identified as Robert Lewis Dear, 57, from Hartsel, Colorado. According to local KDVR-TV, he was previously a resident of North Carolina, where he had a arrest record. 

All nine surviving victims - five police officers and four civilians - were listed in good condition at area hospitals, Carney said.

Dear - later seen in a white T-shirt, handcuffed, and led away by officers - first engaged in a protracted gun battle with police, but ultimately surrendered about five hours after the start of the violence.

"This began to unfold at noon today after the gunman entered the building and began shooting. A five-hour standoff then ensued," Al Jazeera's Jim Hooley reported from the scene. "Nine other people were shot and wounded. They're in good condition."

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear.

The Colorado Springs clinic has been the target of repeated protests by anti-abortion rights activists.

It is owned by Planned Parenthood, a national nonprofit group devoted to providing a range of reproductive health services, including abortions. 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies