(Adds comment from witness, background)
MOGADISHU, Dec 27 (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed in Mogadishu on Friday when a remotely controlled bomb exploded in a busy restaurant in the Somali capital, police official and witnesses said.
Police suspect al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab of planting the bomb, which went off in the notoriously insecure Dayniile district where, police say, al Shabaab militants often hide.
Al Shabaab did not immediately claim responsibility.
"The remotely controlled bomb targeted government forces. Eight people died, including three soldiers," Major Kadar Mohamed, a senior police officer told Reuters.
The rebels were pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 by African Union peacekeeping troops but over the past year al Shabaab has carried out several large scale attacks on high profile targets, denting gradual security improvements in Mogadishu.
"I could see several motionless people lying in the scene," Said Fatuma Hassan, a mother of three who was near the bomb blast. "The whole place was ruined and stained with blood." (Reporting by Abdirahman Hussein and Abdi Sheikh Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Louise Ireland)