Mangled bodies lay in a pool of blood and pieces of clothing and shoes were scattered on the road.
Just minutes earlier, Benazir Bhutto had left in her white SUV after addressing cheering crowds at a Thursday afternoon election rally in a park.
Then those of us still in the park heard gunfire and an explosion. An assassin had struck, killing Bhutto, blowing himself up and taking at least another 20 lives. In Rawalpindi, a city steeped in political violence, the streets were bloody again.
The park where Bhutto made her last speech is the same one where the country's first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was shot to death in 1951. It is named after him.
The northern city, where the military is based, is also where Bhutto's father and former prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979. President Pervez Musharraf survived two bombing attacks here in 2003.
Earlier that year, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was captured in Rawalpindi.
Thursday's bombing blew the clothes off some of the victims. The victims lay on the road outside the gate of a neighboring theater. Two bodies were face down. Another was blackened and badly mutilated. Blood was everywhere. A severed hand lay several yards away.
The air reeked of explosives.
A man who appeared wounded was slumped on the sidewalk about 50 yards from where the bomber was thought to have struck. Another man in bloodied clothes sat nearby on the footpath, looking dazed.
"Doomsday has happened," said Chaudhry Mohammed Nazir, a Bhutto party activist, crying and still holding the green, red and black flag of Bhutto's party in the Jan. 8 parliamentary election.
A spontaneous, chaotic rescue effort began with people trying to pick up the dead and wounded. Ambulances wove through the crush of people. Police asked bystanders to stay away.
Bhutto was brought to Rawalpindi's state-run Central Hospital, where dozens of police sealed the main gate, leaving Bhutto supporters outside waiting for news.
After a party leader announced her death _ and although there was no indication who was behind the attack _ the crowd erupted into chants of "Musharraf is a dog." Many broke down in anguish.
Some smashed the glass door to the hospital's emergency unit and poured in. A woman wailed "Baji Bibi," or sister Bhutto.
"Convey our hatred to the generals," a young man in the hospital corridor told reporters, accusing the army of being hostile to Bhutto's party.
Iftikhar Ali Butt, a party activist, said he had seen the slain 54-year-old candidate on a stretcher. Her neck was bandaged, he said, and her body was covered in a white sheet.