Taliban gunmen have killed at least 84 schoolchildren and wounded dozens more in a school attack in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Six men stormed the army-run school, according to military officials, and soldiers surrounded the building.

Provincial health minister Shahram Khan told Sky News that a female teacher and a soldier were among the dead. The death toll could be as high as 95, according to the AFP news agency.

Around 500 children and teachers were believed to be inside, with many students taken to local hospitals in a critical condition.

The army said some children are still being held hostage by the militants.

“Rescue operation by troops under way. Exchange of fire continues. Bulk of student(s) and staff evacuated. Reports of some children and teachers killed by terrorist,” the army said in a brief English-language statement.

Gunmen and suicide bombers targeted the school while an exam was taking place, said one teacher.

“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. “We want them to feel our pain.”