KABUL (AFP) A Taliban suicide squad armed with rockets on Wednesday targeted an Afghan peace conference hosted by President Hamid Karzai that is seeking consensus on how to end nearly nine years of war. As Karzai addressed more than 1,600 delegates and Western diplomats at the peace jirga, rockets exploded and gunfire erupted near the huge air-conditioned tent in Kabul where the conference was taking place. Officials said suicide bombers wearing explosive-packed vests and dressed in womens burqas targeted the event, which was being protected by 12,000 security personnel, but that the attack was unsuccessful. The area is under our control now and is cleared, interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told AFP. Two attackers aged between 17 and 20 years had managed to come to the area using burqas and had entered a house under construction. A third would-be suicide attacker was taken into custody, he said. At least five explosions, believed to be caused by rockets, interrupted the opening of the three-day jirga that Karzai hopes will achieve a consensus within the disparate country on how to end war with the Taliban. The Taliban militia - which is opposed to peace talks until all foreign troops have left Afghanistan - claimed it had dispatched four suicide bombers, who were armed with guns and rockets and threatening the jirga from a nearby rooftop. Karzai left the event on schedule after his address, travelling in his customary armoured convoy. Delegates took a scheduled break for his departure, but did not return to their seats for about three hours, with some taking refuge beneath trees from the rocket attacks. Karzai used his speech to appeal to delegates to advise him on how to bring the impoverished country, blighted by three decades of war, out of the current conflict which followed the 2001 invasion, and encourage the Taliban to disarm. The Afghan nation is looking at you. They await your decisions, your advice so that you can show the Afghan nation the way to reach peace, to rescue Afghanistan from this suffering and pain, Karzai said. Lets free ourselves from this killing and build this land with consultation from the ulema and elders of this country. Karzai said most of the Taliban fighting his administration were those who fled their homes under oppression, either by us or the foreigners. I call on them - brothers, come back to your homeland, its over, he said. He reiterated his long-held position that he would not reconcile with those he called Al-Qaeda terrorists. Critics have warned that the jirga is likely to have only a limited outcome, not least because the Taliban are not officially attending. But Farouq Wardak, Karzais education minister and one of the organisers of the event, said that with 1,700-1,800 delegates, this is more than we expected. Were sure the results will be great. It is already the third such conference to bring together Afghanistans complex mix of ethnic, tribal, religious, geographical and gender interests since the US-led invasion brought down the Talibans 1996-2001 regime. Karzais Western allies, led by the United States, have described the jirga as a milestone in Afghanistans political maturity. The jirga elected as its chairman a warlord and former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who in a rambling speech conceded that three days might not be enough to find a solution for all our problems. The Taliban have dismissed the conference as a propaganda stunt and claimed responsibility for Wednesdays attacks. The jirga comes after Al-Qaeda announced the death of its number three leader and Afghanistan operations chief, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, believed to have been killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan late last month. The jirga is expected to end on Friday with a declaration on what steps should be taken to end the insurgency, what groups should be included in the process and how they should be approached.