updated 11/6/2008 3:01:39 PM ET 2008-11-06T20:01:39

Islamist extremists abducted and killed the mayor of a small town in eastern Algeria, the Algerian Interior Ministry said Thursday.

Fateh Bouchibane, the mayor of Timezrit, a town some 160 miles east of the capital, was kidnapped by "a terrorist group," the ministry said in a statement.

His body and a burned car were later found.

The official APS news agency said Bouchibane was abducted at a crossroads shortly after sunset Wednesday. Though details of the abduction were not immediately clear, Algerian insurgents often set up fake checkpoints, dressing as soldiers or police, to stop vehicles, loot travelers and sometimes kill those they view as enemies.

Several government officials and civil servants have died in similar ambushes this year.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the mayor's slaying. Insurgents have increased attacks against government targets since formally linking up with al-Qaida in 2006 and calling themselves al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa.

The linkup raised the violence level of an Islamic insurgency that had tapered off in recent years.

Algeria's Islamic insurgency was triggered 16 years ago by an army decision to cancel national elections to thwart a likely victory by an Islamic fundamentalist party. Up to an estimated 200,000 people have been killed since then.

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