PESHAWAR: At least three students were wounded Friday in a clash at Peshawar University, following a dispute over Valentine's Day celebrations in Pakistan, police said.
Students from the left-leaning Pakhtun Students Federation were marking the international day of romance with red balloons and cake when they were attacked by students from the rival Islami Jamiat Tulba (IJT) group.
The IJT, the student wing of Pakistan's hardline Jamaat-i-Islami party, had been celebrating “Haya (“Modesty”) Day” in response to Valentine's Day which they oppose as un-Islamic.
Dozens of students threw rocks in the scuffle, leading to gunshots being fired by both sides and three rooms in a student dormitory being set on fire.
“The situation is under control now. Three students were wounded in the clash,” local police official Fazlur Rehman told AFP, adding that police were searching for the students involved to arrest them.
One student had a gunshot wound to his hand, he added.
Valentine's Day is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, many of whom have taken up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts to celebrate the occasion.
But Pakistan remains a deeply traditional Muslim society where many disapprove of Valentine's Day as a Western import.
Peshawar is a conservative city on the edge of Pakistan's restive tribal belt, where most women wear veils in public and few girls go out alone.
Many of the Taliban and al Qaeda-linked bombings which have killed thousands of people in Pakistan in the past several years have focused around Peshawar and the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.