Phenotypic and genetic characteristics of Shigella spp. isolated from diarrhoeal and asymptomatic children aged up to 5 years were analysed in this study. In total, 91 and 17 isolates were identified from diarrhoeal (case) and asymptomatic (control) children, respectively. All the isolates were tested for antimicrobial resistance, the presence of integrons, plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR), virulence-associated genes and Shigella pathogenicity island (SH-PAI). The majority of the Shigella spp. from cases (68.1 %) and controls (82.3 %) were found to be resistant to fluoroquinolones. Integron carriage was detected more in cases (76.9 %) than in controls (35.5 %). Atypical class 1 integron was detected exclusively in Shigellaflexneri from cases but not from the controls. PMQR genes such as aac(6′)-Ib-cr and qnrS1 were detected in 82.4 and 14.3 % of the isolates from cases and in 53 and 17.6 % in controls, respectively. Shigella isolates from cases as well as from controls were positive for the invasive plasmid antigen H-encoding gene ipaH. The other virulence genes such as virF, sat, setA, setB, sen and ial were detected in Shigella isolates in 80.2, 49.4, 27.4, 27.4, 80.2 and 79.1 % of cases and in 64.7, 52.9, 17.6, 17.6, 64.7 and 64.7 % of controls, respectively. The entire SH-PAI was detected in S. flexneri serotype 2a from cases and controls. In an isolate from a control child, the SH-PAI was truncated. Integrons, PMQR and virulence-encoding genes were detected more frequently in cases than in controls. In diarrhoea endemic areas, asymptomatic carriers may play a crucial role in the transmission of multidrug-resistant Shigella spp. with all the putative virulence genes.