The leading candidate in Brazil’s presidential election is in a serious but stable condition after being stabbed at a campaign rally, doctors said.

Jair Bolsonaro, 63, was stabbed in the city of Juiz de Fora, about 200km north of Rio de Janeiro, on Thursday.

The far-right presidential candidate underwent emergency surgery for a wound in the abdomen and could take two months to fully recover, said Dr Luiz Henrique Borsato, who operated on the candidate.

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“His internal wounds were grave and put the patient’s life at risk,” Borsato said.

Bolsonaro is expected to spend at least a week in the hospital, he added.

Videos shared on social media showed Bolsonaro, whose agenda includes cracking down on crime in Latin America’s largest country, is carried through a crowd by his supporters when he is suddenly stabbed with a knife to the lower part of his stomach.

The attacker was arrested right away.

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He was identified as Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, 40, who said he was “carrying out a divine mission, a mission from God”, according to Luis Boundens, head of a union of federal police officers.

Oliveira was affiliated with the leftwing Socialism and Liberty Party from 2007 to 2014, the party said in a written statement, in which it repudiated the violence.

Authorities are investigating the suspect’s mental health, police said.

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