The President of Brazil addressed the Global Business Forum Latin America 2022 virtually. Image Credit: Supplied

Sao Paolo: A man was killed near a campaign event in Sao Paulo for a close ally of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday, authorities said, after the sound of gunfire interrupted the event.

The candidate running for governor of Sao Paulo, Tarcisio Freitas, said the incident appeared unrelated to his campaign.

There were no initial signs of political motives. Officials said the man was killed near the event in the city's Paraisopolis neighbourhood, but gave no further details on his identity.

Sao Paulo Public Security Secretary Joao Camilo Campos said preliminary information suggested there had not been an attack targeting Freitas, although investigators had not ruled out any possibilities.

The scare comes amid a tense election season in Brazil, with presidential campaigns stepping up security measures amid a rising tide of political violence.

Freitas, who previously served as Bolsonaro's infrastructure minister, had a strong lead in the first round of Sao Paulo's gubernatorial race over an ally of leftist presidential challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Both races now go to a runoff vote on Oct. 30.

Brazil's Bolsonaro, Lula in first head-to-head debate
Far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva traded jabs and insults as they squared off Sunday in their first-ever head-to-head debate, two weeks from Brazil's presidential runoff election.

Lula attacked Bolsonaro as the "king of fake news," drawing accusations of lying, corruption and a "disgraceful" record in return, as the rivals sparred in the first debate for their polarizing second-round showdown on October 30.
Lula, the charismatic but tarnished ex-president (2003-2010) who is seeking a comeback at 76, was particularly fiery criticizing Bolsonaro over his handling of Covid-19, which has killed 687,000 people in Brazil, second only to the United States.

Attacking Bolsonaro over his resistance to buying vaccines and touting of unproven medications such as hydroxychloroquine, Lula said the president "carries the weight of those deaths on his shoulders."

"Your negligence led to 680,000 people dying, when more than half could have been saved," the ex-metalworker said in his trademark gravelly voice.

"No other leader in the world played around with the pandemic and with death the way you did."

In a feisty, free-wheeling debate with minimal intervention by moderators, Bolsonaro, 67, tried to drag the focus to the issue of corruption - a weak spot for Lula, who was jailed in 2018 on controversial, since-overturned graft charges.

Shortly after the shots were heard, Freitas said on Twitter he was attacked by criminals in an attempt at intimidation, although he later said he believed the incident was not related to his campaign.

"First of all, we are all fine. During a visit to the 1st University Hub of Paraisopolis, we were attacked by criminals," he said, adding that police had responded quickly.

"A criminal was shot. We are looking into details of the situation," he wrote.

At a news conference later on Monday, he added: "It has nothing to do with an electoral issue; it is a territorial issue here in slums in communities in the state of Sao Paulo." Several loud bangs can be heard in a video shot by local media near the event. Reuters has not verified the video.

At a news conference in Brasilia, President Bolsonaro said that whether or not Freitas was the target of an attack, the incident showed he needed to have greater concern for his safety.