Police challenged a group of suspected militants Monday at a high school in northwestern Pakistan after hearing that they wanted to "motivate" students for holy war, sparking a gunbattle that left six people dead, police said.

Five militants and one police officer were killed in the shooting at the privately run Oxford Public School in Tank, a town about 60 miles from the Afghan border, said Javed Khan, a local police officer. It was unclear whether any students were hurt.

Khan said the militants told the administrators of the boys' school to assemble the students so the militants could address them.

"They wanted to speak with the boys and motivate them for jihad," Khan said by telephone from Tank.

He described the militants as "local Taliban," a term commonly used to describe militants in the tribal belt along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

Tank is on the edge of South Waziristan, a stronghold of militants aligned with the Taliban movement fighting in neighboring Afghanistan and of foreign militants linked with Al Qaeda.