Leaders of the Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan sent a message from their hiding place on Sunday, calling on Pope John Paul's successor to use his influence to stop what the Taleban called the persecution of Muslims.

A Taleban spokesman told Reuters news agency the insurgency felt neither grief nor joy over the pope's death, but believed some the pontiff's message of peace and harmony was worth considering. The spokesman also said many of the pope's followers want peace, but many others are still committing excesses against Muslims.

In his New Years Day sermon in 2002, Pope John Paul spoke out against killing in the name of God, saying only forgiveness can quench the thirst for revenge.

The Taleban, which ruled Afghanistan until its was ousted more than three years ago by U.S.-led forces, was vilified in many Western countries for its strict form of Islamic law and oppressive policies toward women.

Some information for thisr eport provided by Reuters.