PALERMO, Sicily (AP) _ Two young assailants on a motorbike ambushed and killed a former mayor of this Sicilian capital Tuesday night in what appeared to be a Mafia slaying.

Giuseppe Insalaco, 45, was driving his car home along a busy residential street when the two assailants rode up and fired several shots at his head from a pistol, police said. Insalaco died instantly.

A Palermo police spokesman said the killers hit another car while leaving the scene, abandoned their motorbike and fled on foot.

The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity.

The murder weapon, described in news media accounts as either a .44- or .357-caliber Magnum, was found on a sidewalk nearby.

State-run RAI television and Italian news agencies described the slaying as the work of the Sicilian Mafia.

Television segments showed Insalaco slumped over the wheel of his blood- spattered car, surrounded by police and photographers.

Insalaco was mayor of Palermo from April 13 to Aug. 6, 1984. At the time of his death, he had been indicted on charges of corruption and illegal private dealings in a longstanding investigation into the sale of public property.

In April 1986, Insalaco was arrested in the same case, on charges of pocketing an illegal profit in the sale to developers of property belonging to a home for the deaf and mute. He was never convicted on those charges, but was later fined $500 and given a suspended eight-month sentence for possession of illegal weapons.

The case involving the property sale eventually led Insalaco to quit political life, though he maintained his innocence.

The last prominent Sicilian politician killed in suspected mob-related violence was Pio La Torre, a parliamentarian and regional Communist Party secretary shot in a similar ambush April 20, 1982, the news agency ANSA noted.

No link was cited between Insalaco's death and the mass Mafia trial that ended last month with 23 men convicted for the murders of top crime figures.

Mayor Leoluca Orlando, a Christian Democrat as was Insalaco, called Tuesday night for steps to be taken ''so that there will finally be truth and justice today for this crime and for so many in the past that remain unpunished.''

''Standing before yet another body, we have the duty to call upon everyone to do all we can to strike down, once and for all, the spiral of the Mafia and of violence,'' Orlando said.