Jair Bolsonaro, a leading presidential candidate in Brazil, was stabbed yesterday during a campaign event, though officials and his son said the injury is not life-threatening.

Numerous videos on social media showed Bolsonaro, whose platform includes cracking down on crime in Latin America's largest nation, being stabbed with a knife to the lower part of his stomach. The candidate was seen flinching after the attack.

Police spokesman Flavio Santiago confirmed to the Associated Press that Bolsonaro had been stabbed and that his attacker was arrested.

Santiago said Bolsonaro was taken to a hospital in Juiz de Fora, a city about 200 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro, and was in good condition.

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Bolsonaro's son, Flavio Bolsonaro posted on Twitter that his father is doing fine.

The wound "was superficial and he is OK," wrote Flavio, who also asked for prayers for the family.

Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, is second in the polls to ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been barred from running but continues to appeal.

Despite being a congressman since 1991, Bolsonaro is running as an outsider ready to upend the establishment.

While he has a strong following, Bolsonaro is also a deeply polarizing figure. He has been fined, and even faced charges, for derogatory statements toward women, blacks and gays.

He also speaks nostalgically about the country's 1964-1985 military dictatorship and has promised to fill his government with current and former military leaders.

- AP