Reuters International

Well-wishers hold a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand, June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

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BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest reigning monarch, has shown further signs of improvement following a severe infection, the palace said on Wednesday.

The king has been treated for various ailments during a year-long hospitalization in the Thai capital.

He is seen by most Thais as a unifying force in a nation bitterly divided along political lines.

Anxiety over his health and eventual succession has formed the backdrop to more than a decade of on-off political violence that has included military takeovers and bouts of often deadly street protests.

The latest examination of his blood and phlegm showed the severity of his infection had lowered, the palace said.

An x-ray showed no indication of inflammation and an echocardiography showed normal heart function.

A team of physicians would continue to administer antibiotics and offer renal therapy to the king, it said.

It was the third health statement in less than one week after the palace issued a bulletin on Friday, part of a monthly update on the monarch's health, saying that the king had a severe infection in his blood and had water in his lungs.

News about the royal family is tightly controlled in Thailand, where laws protecting the royals from insult make it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir to the throne or regent.

(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Dominic Evans)

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