ST. LOUIS - An unruly mob lured emergency personnel to a southwestern Illinois housing complex with reports of a blaze, a shooting and other crimes, then repeatedly attacked them with fireworks and bottle rockets, police said yesterday.

No one was injured in the onslaughts against firefighters and police Sunday night and early Monday near a sprawling, three-block housing complex in Alton, Ill., a 30,000-resident Mississippi River city northeast of St. Louis.

The attackers apparently intended the assaults as amusement for a crowd of several hundred adults and children who had gathered at the Oakwood Housing Complex to watch, at times requiring police to fire volleys of pepper balls to control the throng, Police Chief David Hayes said.

"It defies human logic," Hayes said, calling the outbursts "despicable" and uncivilized. "It's the work of hoodlums that would create a ruse like that then use those resources as target practice and fun" with firecrackers, bottle rockets and other fireworks - all outlawed in Illinois. Hayes said there have been no arrests or charges yet in the attacks.

Hayes said the firefighters were first attacked when they responded to reports of a Dumpster fire near the complex about 10:20 p.m. Sunday.

"Our firefighters got in there and started doing their thing, and out come the fireworks" including bottle rockets and Roman candles, said Mark Harris, a deputy fire chief.

Police officers and firefighters were attacked again when they returned to the neighborhood to douse a blazing box early Monday.