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An envoy in the region said a gun fight had broken out with police in the area.
The seizure comes amid heightened security following a suspected suicide bomb attack in Moscow on Tuesday night, and the bombing of two passenger planes last week.
Security officials are at the scene in Beslan trying to negotiate with hostage-takers.
Interfax news agency said at least 17 gunmen are involved.
There has been some shooting since the gunmen took the school over, and at least one man was reported killed, CNN said. The hostage-taking follows a suicide bombing in Moscow yesterday that killed 10 people and the crashes of two airliners last week after suicide bombers, believed to be from Chechnya, set off explosives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday the group claiming responsibility for the downing of the two airliners has links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Russian news agencies said up to 30 suicide attackers carrying belts laden with explosives stormed the school.
The Interfax news agency said there had been a gun battle with police at the school with at least one person killed.
A regional government spokesman told the Itar-Tass agency several teachers had been shot dead.
The group is demanding the release of jailed rebels in the neighbouring Ingushetia region.The AFP news agency said 200 children and 40 adults had been taken.
"The hostage takers, who include men and women, are wearing martyrs' belts," said Ismael Chaov, a spokesman for the North Ossetian interior ministry told AFP.