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Brazil’s Leading Presidential Candidate Stabbed At Campaign Rally

The front-runner in Brazil’s presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro, has been stabbed at a campaign rally.

The far-right politician was attacked in a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. A suspect was arrested.

Mr Bolsonaro had surgery for injuries to his intestines and is expected to recover, hospital officials said.

The controversial politician, who has outraged many in Brazil with racist and homophobic comments, has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.

The polls suggest he will get the most votes in the first round of the October presidential elections if former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva remains blocked from standing, but he is unlikely to win a run-off.

Left-wing Lula had been the long-standing favourite but he is currently in prison, appealing against a ban on his candidacy that was imposed after his conviction for corruption.

Some of Mr Bolsonaro’s past comments have caused uproar, including equating homosexuality with paedophilia, and saying a congresswoman was too ugly to be raped.

This is another twist – a dramatic one – in what has already been a turbulent campaign for one of Brazil’s most uncertain elections in decades.

The front-runner Lula is unlikely to be able to run because he’s locked up in prison. Jair Bolsonaro is expected to win the first round in his absence, but he is in a hospital bed. It is a surreal situation.

One of Jair Bolsonaro’s key campaign messages is that he will try to turn around the growth in violent crime. The fact that he is now a victim himself plays into the hands of his supporters, who see this as a very important problem for Brazil to tackle. Everyone – including his detractors – has rallied around him to condemn the attack.

As it has happened so close to the October election, he won’t be on the campaign trail for the next week or so. Nevertheless, his supporters will be strengthened, seeing that his concerns are their concerns.

Footage of the incident in the city of Juiz de Fora shows Mr Bolsonaro making a thumbs-up gesture and being held aloft by supporters when he is stabbed with what appears to be a knife.

He then doubles over with pain and his supporters quickly lower him to the ground and bundle him into a car.

After the attack, his son Flavio tweeted: “Unfortunately it was more serious than we had expected. He lost a lot of blood, arrived at the hospital with a [blood] pressure of 10/3, almost dead. His condition now seems stabilised. Pray, please!”

Hospital officials later said Mr Bolsonaro had suffered a “deep” and life-threatening stab wound in his intestines and was in a “serious but stable” condition.

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