New killings heighten fears of electoral violence in Brazil

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SAO PAULO — Brazilian police said Monday a 39-year-old supporter of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was stabbed to death in a bar as concerns grew over political violence in a tense presidential election campaign.

The newspaper O Povo reported that police witnesses said a man entered a bar in the town of Cascavel on Saturday and asked who voted for da Silva in the October 2 election. One man said, “I will,” and then was stabbed. He died in hospital the same day.

A Ceara State Police officer confirmed the report on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity in the absence of clearance to comment.

Police previously issued a statement saying the man was killed over a “political discussion” and said a 59-year-old suspect named Edmilson Freire da Silva had been arrested. The suspect was previously arrested on a case of domestic violence, police said.

The non-profit organization Human Rights Watch said it regretted “another attack with an obvious political motivation” during the Brazilian election campaign. Ceara state is a stronghold for da Silva and his Labor Party.

“Candidates should vehemently condemn any act of violence and promote peaceful elections,” it said on Twitter

Neither Bolsonaro nor da Silva have commented on the incident.

Brazilian media reported that police in Santa Catarina state, a Bolsonaro stronghold, are investigating a second murder that could be linked to politics. On Saturday, a 34-year-old man died after being stabbed to death in Rio do Sul, a town of 72,000 people.

Supporters of the President have said on social media channels that Hildor Henker was killed in a bar fight after he expressed his support for the far-right leader.

Da Silva, a leftist who ruled from 2003 to 2010, leads in virtually every poll against right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who has insisted the polls are wrong and that voter fraud could strip him of the presidency.

Earlier in the campaign, a Bolsonaro supporter killed a local da Silva Labor Party official in the town of Foz de Iguacu, and there were less serious clashes between Bolsonaro and da Silva supporters.

Labor MP Paulo Guedes said on Twitter that his car had been shot at three times by Bolsonaro supporters during a rally.

“How far does this hate go?” Guedes said on his social media channels.

Police in the city of Angra dos Reis, near Rio de Janeiro, said on Saturday that a woman was hit on the head by a Bolsonaro supporter after she criticized the president.

Both frontrunners have made it a point to wear bulletproof vests when they appear in public. Bolsonaro almost died during the 2018 election campaign as a result of being stabbed by a mentally ill man.

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