Nelson Mandela at the 2010 World Cup football final in Soweto (July 2010) Mr Mandela last appeared in public at the World Cup in Soweto in 2010

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital after a diagnostic procedure for an abdominal problem, the government says.

President Jacob Zuma’s office said he was sent home after the checks “did not indicate anything seriously wrong”.

Officials earlier said the 93-year-old Nobel Prize laureate had undergone a laparoscopy but was recovering well.

The procedure involves inserting a tiny camera through the abdomen or pelvis.

The government has not confirmed where Mr Mandela was being treated nor the exact details of his health concerns.

Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu earlier told reporters he had been suffering from “ongoing discomfort” but denied reports of a hernia operation.

She said the former president was “as fine as can be at his age”.

In his statement, Mr Zuma thanked the public for their “good wishes and support”.

“The doctors have decided to send him home as the diagnostic procedure he underwent did not indicate anything seriously wrong with him,” it said.

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  • Surgical procedure where a camera is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision
  • Used to investigate and diagnose problems with abdomen or pelvis
  • Can be used to take tissue samples or carry out small operations including removal of growths
  • Usually carried out under a local anaesthetic without the patient needing to stay in hospital overnight

Mr Mandela, who is affectionately known in South Africa by his clan name, Madiba, spent 27 years in prison for fighting the white-minority rule of the apartheid era.

He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, serving one five-year term.

In 2004, he retired from public life – his age and declining health mean he has appeared in public only rarely since.

In January last year, he was treated in Johannesburg for a serious chest infection and his health remains a subject of huge public interest.

The BBC’s Karen Allen in Johannesburg says Mr Mandela is still considered by many South Africans to be the father of the nation.

Messages have been pouring in from wellwishers hoping for a speedy recovery, says our correspondent.