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Nelson Mandela was rushed to a South African hospital early Thursday (March 28), and is being treated for a lung infection. This is the second time in recent months that the 94-year-old has been hospitalized for the same ailment.

Mandela was admitted just after midnight and is said to be receiving the “best possible.” The public has been asked to pray for the former president.

“We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in their thoughts,” said South African President Jacob Zuma in a statement.

“We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery.”

According to presidential spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, the ailing former freedom fighter, who spent nearly 30 years behind bars in his battle against apartheid, is conscious and “aware,” but doctors are concerned about the re-emergence of the infection. “The health has been OK given his age, but the downturn last night – obviously when the lung infection recurs, the doctors will want to do everything possible and make sure that they don’t allow the infection to spread, that they arrest it as quickly as possible,” he said.

Last month, Mandela spent a night in the hospital for minor surgery to uncover the source of his abdominal pain. In December the reoccurring lung infection had him hospitalized for over two weeks.

Photo:  Schalk van Zuydam/AP