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Saudi king Abdullah to go under the knife again

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz will undergo a back operation in a Riyadh hospital next week to tighten up a loose ligament, the palace says. 

"The operation will take place, God willing, next week at King Abdulaziz Medical City for the National Guard in Riyadh,” the Royal Court said in a statement, published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.

The Saudi king was admitted to an intensive care unit in a hospital in June. He has undergone several surgeries in recent years.

In October 2011, the nearly-90-year-old king underwent an operation to tighten ligaments around his third vertebra. In 2010, he had two rounds of back surgery in the United States after suffering a herniated disc.

The number two to the throne has been regarded as King Abdullah’s heir following the deaths of his half-brothers Sultan and Nayef within the space of eight months.

Advanced age and failing health as well as the deaths of the king’s half-brothers have raised concerns about the future of the oil-rich country in the face of the ongoing domestic anti-government demonstrations against the kingdom’s suppressive policies towards the people.