Brazilian far-right presidential candidate in stable condition after stabbing

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Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is in a serious but stable state at the hospital after "successful" surgery after he was stabbed while campaigning on Thursday, his running mate said.

Flavio Bolsonaro, the candidate's son, wrote on Twitter that his father had been injured in the liver, lungs and intestine.

"He lost a lot of blood, he came to the hospital … almost dead, he seems to have stabilized now," he said.

Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro makes a gesture after being stabbed in the stomach during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora

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Gen. Antonio Hamilton Mourao, Bolsonaro's running mate, told Reuters by telephone that the candidate's condition was stable, but still worrisome.

"She underwent surgery, which was successful and is doing well," Mourao said. "But his condition is still delicate."

A spokeswoman for the hospital in the city of Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, where the attack took place, confirmed to Reuters that Bolsonaro had undergone surgery, but did not provide details about his condition or his injuries.

The attack on Bolsonaro is a dramatic turn in what is already Brazil's most unpredictable election since the country's return to democracy three decades ago. Corruption investigations have imprisoned dozens of powerful businessmen and politicians, and alienated enraged voters.

Violence in Brazil is rampant – the country has more homicides than any other, according to the United Nations – and political violence is common at the local level.

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is taken on the shoulders of a supporter moments before being stabbed during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora, Brazil

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is taken on the shoulders of a supporter moments before being stabbed during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora, Brazil

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For example, in the months leading up to the 2016 municipal council elections in Baixada Fluminense, a tough region the size of Denmark that surrounds Rio de Janeiro, at least 13 politicians or candidates were killed before the ballots were issued.

Earlier this year, Marielle Franco, a councilor from the city of Rio that was an open critic of police violence against residents of slums, was murdered.

But violence against national political figures, even in the extremely heated political climate that has engulfed Brazil in recent years, is rare.

Trapped suspect

The Federal Police said in a statement that there were officers escorting Bolsonaro at the time of the knife attack and that the "aggressor" was caught in the act. He said that the circumstances were being investigated.

Local police in Juiz de Fora confirmed to Reuters that a suspect was in custody, but they did not identify him.

"We do not know if it was for political reasons," Corporal Vitor Albuquerque, a spokesman for the local police, said by telephone.

Television footage shows Bolsonaro being carried on the shoulders of someone in the midst of a crushing crowd of enthusiastic supporters in one of the main streets of the city when a knife was seen above the heads just before it sank into the body of the candidate.

A sample of a photograph available by Tribuna de Minas shows that a group of people try to stop Adelio Bispo de Oliveira (c-below)

A sample of a photograph available by Tribuna de Minas shows that a group of people try to stop Adelio Bispo de Oliveira (c-below)

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The images show Bolsonaro who seems to scream in pain and then falls backwards into the arms of those around him. It took a few minutes for the crowd to realize what happened, but they quickly pulled the candidate out of the street.

Bolsonaro, who has spent almost three decades in Congress, is a law and order candidate who routinely says that the Brazilian police must kill suspected drug traffickers and other criminals at will. He has openly praised Brazil's military dictatorship and in the past said he should have killed more people.

Bolsonaro faces a trial before the Supreme Court over a speech that prosecutors said incited hatred and rape. He has called politically motivated charges.

Fernando Haddad, who will likely be the leftist presidential candidate of the Workers' Party, said the stabbing was a "shame" and a "horror".

The electoral rivals of President Michel Temer and Bolsonaro, Ciro Gomes, Marina Silva and Geraldo Alckmin expressed outrage at the attack.

Brazil's stocks and currencies extended their profits after the stabbing, as operators bet the incident could boost support for Bolsonaro, who has turned to a banker trained at the University of Chicago as his chief economic adviser.