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Spanish king undergoes surgery

Spain's King Juan Carlos has successfully undergone hip replacement surgery to repair minor damage related to arthritis worsened by a fall, his fourth operation in less than two years, royal palace officials have said.

The 74-year-old monarch had surgery on his right hip almost immediately after returning from a trip to southern Africa, the palace said in a statement.

A palace spokesman said he had been driven straight to a hospital Friday night after flying back from a private visit to Botswana, where he had fallen.

The statement said the king had sustained "a fracture in three fragments of the right hip, associated with osteoarthritis of that joint."

Leading newspaper El Pais reported on its website that the king had been on an elephant hunting trip when the fall occurred, but the palace declined to comment, saying the visit was a private matter.

Botswana government spokesman Jeff Ramsay said the king was on a private visit in the Okavango area when he had the accident. "He was hunting for elephant. He has a permit," the spokesman said.

The surgery was the king's fourth since May 2010. Previously, a benign tumour has been removed from one of his lungs, and in June last year he also underwent surgery on his right knee.

This is not the first time the ageing monarch's love of hunting has caused concern. In October 2006, a Russian governor launched an inquiry into reports that Juan Carlos had shot and killed a bear while on holiday near Moscow.

Also, the king's 13-year-old grandson, Felipe Juan Froilan, is currently recovering in a hospital after shooting himself in the foot accidentally with a shotgun.

The most serious shooting incident occurred in 1956 when Juan Carlos accidentally shot and killed his 14-year-old brother while handling a gun during a holiday visit to Estoril, Portugal.

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