Brazilian far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is in serious condition after being stabbed at a campaign rally.
Bolsonaro, 63, was stabbed in the city of Juiz de Fora, about 200km north of Rio de Janeiro, on Thursday. Police have arrested the unidentified attacker, who claimed to be acting on orders from God.
Bolsonaro underwent emergency surgery for a wound in the abdomen and is expected to recover, hospital officials told reporters.
Videos shared on social media showed Bolsonaro, whose agenda includes cracking down on crime in Latin America’s largest country, being carried through a crowd by his supporters when he is suddenly stabbed with a knife to the lower part of his stomach.
A witness told police the attacker held a knife wrapped up in a shirt and attacked Bolsonaro as the group hoisting him walked by.
The attacker was arrested right away. He was identified as Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, 40, and said to be a member of the left-leaning PSOL party from 2007 to 20014.
After his arrest, Bispo de Oliveira said he was “carrying out a divine mission, a mission from God,” said Luis Boundens, head of a union of federal police officers.
Authorities are investigating the suspect’s mental health, he added.
Bolsonaro, a former military man and lawmaker, has been criticized for outbursts deemed racist, mysogynist and homophobic.
Bispo de Oliveira acted “for religious reasons, for political reasons, and also because of the prejudice Bolsonaro has always shown when he talks about race, religion and even women,” said his lawyer, Pedro Augusto Lima Possa.
On his Facebook page, the attacker recently posted messages criticizing Bolsonaro and supporting the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.