UN seeks surge in anti- al-Shabab campaign in Somalia, says advance has "ground to a halt"

A top U.N official says the war against al-Shabab militant forces in Somalia has "ground to a halt" and needs a surge of almost 4,400 more African Union troops and massive U.N. assistance to break the stalemate and avoid failure.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Security Council on Wednesday that the U.N.-endorsed African Union force now in Somalia, and the Somali military, lack "the capacity to push beyond areas already recovered" from al-Shabab in the last 18 months.

Eliasson recommends that the African Union contingent be boosted by 4,395 troops. The U.N. also wants another 1,000 troops for a U.N. guard force to prevent suicide attacks as well as 840 police officers.

If authorized by the Security Council that would boost the force to about 24,000 personnel.