The far-right candidate in the Brazilian presidential election, who is the current frontrunner, was stabbed while campaigning on Friday, throwing the election into chaos just weeks before the vote.
Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, who has enraged many Brazilians for years with controversial comments but has a devoted following among conservative voters, could take two months to fully recover and will spend at least a week in the hospital, following the life-threatening injuries, doctors said.
Dr Luiz Henrique Borsato, who operated on the candidate, said the internal wounds were “grave” and “put the patient’s life at risk.” Doctors were worried about an infection since Bolsonaro’s intestines were perforated, he added.
“(The pain) was intolerable and it seemed like maybe something worse was happening,” he said in a video from his hospital bed early Friday.
Talking in a raspy voice with a tube to his nose and hospital monitors beeping nearby, he said, “I was preparing for this sort of thing. You run risks.”
Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, also a congressman, said his father had lost two litres (4.23 pints) of blood from the ordeal.
The Federal Police said in a statement its officers were escorting Bolsonaro at the time of the knife attack and that the “aggressor” was caught in the act. It said the circumstances were being investigated.
Local police in Juiz de Fora, where the attack took place, told Reuters the suspect, Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, 40, was in custody and appeared to be mentally disturbed.
The attack on Bolsonaro, 63, is a twist in what was already Brazil’s most unpredictable election since the country’s return to democracy three decades ago. Corruption investigations have jailed scores of businessmen and politicians in recent years and alienated voters.
There was fear of violence flaring across Brazil on Friday, as the nation celebrates Independence Day with political groups likely to march in hundreds of cities.