Pakistani police say two rival student groups have clashed at a university in the country's northwest over Valentine's Day celebrations.

Students from the left-leaning Pakhtun Students Federation were marking the international day of romance on Friday 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-e-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 rooms in a student dormitory being set on fire.

"Three students were wounded in the clash," local police official Fazalur Rehman told the AFP news agency, adding that police were searching for the students involved to arrest them.

Local media reported that police called in to control the situation were also pelted with stones by angry students. and that a fire brigade was deployed to the university to stop the fire from spreading.

Conservatives in Pakistan every year call for people to boycott Valentine’s Day, saying it is a Western-inspired event that spreads vulgarity.

But the holiday is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, many of whom have taken up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to each other to celebrate the occasion. 

Source: Agencies