Five Pakistani among injured students in Bishkek violence

Mob attack students

BISHKEK (Kyrgyzstan) — Pakistani students in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek were among several foreigners subjected to mob violence late on Friday night, leaving at least five injured, Pakistani officials said on Saturday.

Kyrgyz police said they had mobilised forces in the Central Asian nation’s capital yesterday to quell the violence, in which hundreds of Kyrgyz men attacked buildings housing foreign students, including Pakistanis.

What we know so far

  • Locals attack international students after video of fight with Egyptians goes viral on social media
  • Kyrgyz media outlet describes violence as “protest against foreigners”
  • Kyrgyz foreign ministry says 14 foreigners, including Pakistanis, discharged from hospitals after treatment
  • Kyrgyz deputy PM meets Pakistan ambassador, assures situation is under control
  • Pakistan Embassy says 5 Pakistanis injured, asks nationals to remain indoors; India issues similar instructions
  • FO hands demarche to Kyrgyz envoy

According to Pakistan’s Embassy in Bishkek, foreign students living in the Kyrgyz capital, including those from Pakistan, were attacked by locals in the aftermath of their brawl with Egyptian nationals on May 13. It is not clear what caused the initial altercation.

Kyrgyz private media outlet reported that a “spontaneous protest against foreigners” that began last night in Bishkek ended this morning after police came to an agreement with the rioters and they dispersed a little later.

The report quoted the Kyrgyz health ministry as saying 29 people have been injured in the violence. The country’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, said 14 foreigners were discharged from hospitals after treatment.

The Pakistani embassy in Bishkek reported there were no deaths. “Moreover, Kygyz Ministry of Internal Affairs has also issued press releases stating that the situation is under control”.

Hasan Zaigham, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, posted a video update on X on the situation. He said, “local extremist elements” had attacked six hostels of international students and their private residences last night in Bishkek, injuring 14.

He said one Pakistani, Shahzeb, was under treatment in a hospital and he had visited the student on the prime minister’s instructions. “His condition is out of danger,” the ambassador added.

Zaigham said the prime minister and deputy prime minister had given special instructions to provide every possible service to Pakistani citizens in the country and that the Kyrgyz government had also assured of ensuring the security of foreigners with the police constantly in action as well.

“We have been told that some suspects have been arrested.”

The envoy said embassy officials were constantly working since the morning to help address queries and concerns of Pakistanis with over 500 calls answered so far on emergency numbers. The ambassador appealed to the Pakistani community in Kyrgyzstan to not believe news on social media without verification.

Earlier, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokersperson Mumtaz Zahrah Baloch said five Pakistanis were injured, four of whom were discharged, while one was receiving treatment for a jaw injury.

At least 12,000 Pakistanis are studying in Kyrgyzstan.

A statement from the Kyrgyz government was published by, in which it condemned “attempts to provoke violence and unrest on interethnic grounds due to the dissemination of untrue information on social media”.

Some hostels of medical universities in Bishkek and private residences of international students including Pakistanis were attacked, APP reported, quoting a Facebook post by the embassy.

A Pakistani medical student in Bishkek, Dr Muhammad Taqi, told that while the situation appeared to have calmed, he and other foreigners were readying themselves for a “second attack”. Taqi hails from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Shangla District.

“They (the mob) attacked girls’ and boys’ hostels throughout the night,” he added.

However, contrary to posts circulating on social media, the Pakistan embassy said that so far, they had received no confirmed reports of the death or rape of any Pakistani student.

“We have established contact with the Kyrgyz authorities to ensure the protection of Pakistani students,” Dar said in a post on X.

“I have instructed our Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan to fully facilitate them.”

Zaigham also took to X and urged all Pakistanis in the capital to “remain indoors until the situation return[s] to normal”.

He added that his office was liaising with local authorities to ensure students’ safety and posted numbers for an emergency helpline.

The numbers shared were: +996555554476, +996507567667 and +996 507567667.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has activated its Crisis Management Unit (CMU), with Pakistani nationals in Kyrgyzstan and their families urged to contact the unit at the following numbers: 0519203108, 0519203094

The CMU’s email address was also provided.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement that his office was in touch with the Pakistani Embassy and “constantly monitoring the situation”.

The FO spokesperson, conveyed a message from Ambassador Zaigham in a post on X. “The Embassy of Pakistan is in contact with the Kyrgyz authorities to facilitate Pakistani students,” she wrote, adding that the students’ safety was of “paramount importance” to Zaigham and his team.

In a separate post, Mumtaz shared a post from the Pakistani Embassy’s X account of emergency helpline numbers.

“Amb Zaigham & his team are available on these emergency numbers (both numbers on WhatsApp). They have responded to hundreds of queries by students and their families,” she wrote.

The FO spokesperson advised people to contact the embassy on WhatsApp.

In an update shared by the Foreign Office, the Charge d’affaires of the Kyrgyz Embassy Melis Moldaliev was called to the FO for a demarche by Director General (ECO & CARs) Aizaz Khan.

He conveyed the deep concerns of the government about the reports and urged the Kyrgyz Charge d’affaires that the Kyrgyz government should take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of Pakistani students and citizens residing in the country.

Hours later, the FO shared a statement about a meeting between Pakistani Ambassador Zaigham and Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Imangaziev Almaz in connection with the “incidents of violence in Bishkek”.

“Ambassador Zaigham strongly raised the concerns of Pakistani nationals particularly the large number of affected Pakistani students and their families,” the statement said.

He urged the Kyrgyz government to prioritise safeguarding Pakistani nationals. The Kyrgyz deputy foreign minister informed him authorities “have controlled the situation which is now back to normal”.

He said that the Kyrgyz Police was providing security to all the hostels and the matter “is being directly supervised by the Kyrgyz president”.

Deputy Foreign Minister Almaz assured the ambassador that the Kyrgyzstan government would take legal action against the perpetrators yesterday’s attack.

Kyrgyz foreign affairs ministry also issued a statement about the meeting, saying: “During the meeting, the Pakistani side was informed about the incident involving foreign citizens and the measures taken by the law enforcement authorities of Kyrgyz Republic to suppress illegal actions and ensure public order.”

“The Kyrgyz side also asked the Pakistani side to conduct explanatory work among representatives of the Pakistani mass media on the non-dissemination of inaccurate information on the incident,” it added.

A later statement by the Kyrgyz foreign ministry said that “destructive forces in foreign media, especially in social networks on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, are deliberately disseminating absolutely false and untrue information about the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic.”

It reiterated that the situation in Bishkek was “currently calm and fully under control” with all necessary measures implemented to ensure security, peace, and stability.

“The ministry urges media representatives, the blogging community and international partners to rely exclusively on official and verified information from the competent authorities of the Kyrgyz Republic.”

According to APP, multiple social media posts also reported violence at hostels housing foreign students in Bishkek, enclosed with footage and imagery, with many appealing to authorities to provide help to the students.

The Indian Embassy in Bishkek also warned its students to stay indoors, writing in a post on X, “The situation is presently calm but students are advised to stay indoors for the moment.”

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar also took to X and advised students to “stay in regular touch with the embassy, as well as instructing them to remain indoors.

What happened?

According to a post issued by the Pakistan Embassy on Facebook, there were several incidents of mob violence against foreign students in Bishkek since Friday night.

Quoting Kyrgyz press, the notice said that the situation boiled over after a video of a fight between Kyrgyz students and medical students from Egypt was shared on May 13.

It added that some hostels at medical universities in Bishkek and the private residences of international students including Pakistanis were attacked. “The hostels are inhabited by students from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” it read.

“So far, the violence appears to be directed against all foreign students and not specific to Pakistanis,” the notice stated.

As violent mobs targeting foreign students erupted overnight in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Pakistani medical student Syed Shah Rukh Khan huddled with others in the student hostel where he lives.

“The night passed like a living hell,” Khan, who is in his final year of medical studies at Adam University in central Bishkek, told Radio Mashaal, RFE/RL’s service for Pakistan. “Our hostel was attacked and many other hostels, whether private or in the universities, were attacked.”

Khan is one of several Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan who gave harrowing accounts to RFE/RL of the mob violence that engulfed Bishkek in the early hours of May 18 after a video purportedly showing Kyrgyz students fighting Egyptian medical students days earlier was shared widely on social media.

The Kyrgyz government has said more than two dozen people were injured in the violence, which prompted the embassies of Pakistan and India in the Central Asian nation of 7 million to warn their students to remain indoors.

Kyrgyz Security Forces Cordon Off Parts Of Bishkek Amid Violence

Kyrgyz Security Forces Cordon Off Parts Of Bishkek Amid Violence

“The locals have beaten whoever came their way, male or female students, and they were dragged on the ground,” Khan said. “Even outside the universities, they went after the Pakistani and Indian students and beat them.”

Khan told Radio Mashaal that the rampage began around 2 a.m. in Bishkek and that the mobs had scouted out the locations of Pakistani and Indian students prior to the attacks.

“They entered our hostel in the night by breaking the doors and windows. But we were lucky that the [security forces] quickly arrived there,” Khan said. “They controlled the situation. In other hostels, the situation was worse. They beat the students and dragged them on the ground outside their rooms.”

Hasnain Ali, a Pakistani medical student at the International University of Kyrgyzstan, said he and his fellow students were attacked in their hostel and that several of them suffered serious injuries.

Ali said that in the late afternoon in Bishkek on May 18, local police informed him and others that another mob was heading toward their university and had told them: “Turn off your lights, close your doors and windows, and don’t look outside.”

“We are without water and food. The local police are not helping. They came last night when the mob was gone. The Pakistani Embassy also did not send us any help so far. We are looking to the media to let people know about our situation,” a terrified-sounding Ali told Radio Mashaal.

Another Pakistani medical student in Bishkek, Farooq Zeb, said he saw angry protesters chanting anti-Indian and anti-Pakistani slogans and breaking through the gates of his hostel.

“We are without food and water, and we are scared not knowing what will happen next,” Zeb, who studies at the Ala-Too International Universityin Bishkek, told Radio Mashaal.

Pakistani student Muhammad Ihtisham Latif said earlier on May 18 that the violence broke out after “Egyptian students clashed with locals here.”

“The locals are now protesting and they are beating Indian and Pakistani students…. They chase them in their hostels and houses…hostel [doors] were broken. I am locked up in the university along with other students since yesterday,” Latif said.

Radio Mashaal reached Latif later in the day and the student said he was in a police van that was moving him and two dozen other students to a safer location.

Gulbara Kulusheva, rector of the Royal Metropolitan University in Bishkek, told RFE/RL in an interview that the university is attempting to provide food and other necessities to around 800 students.

“The majority of them are from Pakistan,” Kulusheva said. “Throughout the night the entire university team was in the dormitory protecting them from an angry mob. We are continuing to protect them now.” Dawn/Daud Khattak with reporting by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service in Bishkek and RFE/RL’s Baktygul Chynybaeva in Prague

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