YWT: "...a vicious blowback to a terrible strike..."

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Length: 3:21

STEPHEN FRAZIER: One after the other, these powerful car bombs exploded in the Shia district of Sadr City, ripping through crowded markets and squares. And half an hour later, at least 144 Iraqis had lost their lives, hundreds more wounded in these attacks.

And now authorities are imposing a curfew. It is just now beginning.

Let's bring in Michael Ware in Baghdad for a sense of what's happening there now -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Stephen. As I stand here now, the capital, Baghdad, is under indefinite curfew, a measure to curb what might be a vicious blowback to a terrible strike on Iraq's Shia population.

As American families back in the United States sit down in the celebration of Thanksgiving, so many Iraqi families have now been torn apart this afternoon. This is the single worst event in terms of the loss of civilian life here in Iraq since the war began.

At least 144 are now declared dead from this series of car bombings in the space of 30 minutes in what is clearly a coordinated strike against the Shia. Hundreds more are wounded, many of them critically. All expectations are that the death toll will rise.

The scenes in Iraqi hospitals are simply appalling. There's a call for doctors who are now coming in from other parts of the city.

Mosques in the Sadr City Shia ghetto are calling for blood donors. We're seeing in the corridors of these hospitals bloodied people laying on the floor -- children, men, it's indiscernible who is alive and who is dead.

Perhaps in retaliation, we then saw a series of mortars rain down on neighboring Sunni suburbs. So what we're seeing is one neighborhood striking another in what the American military still insists is not civil war -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: All right. These are attacks that go neighborhood to neighborhood. But we're getting word, too, Michael -- could you fill us in what you know about an attack on a ministry -- the Health Ministry?

WARE: Well, almost at the same time as these coordinated car bombings, we have three confirmed, other reports unconfirmed of possibly three more, that could be six car bombings.

So while this was being unleashed, there was an assault here in the heart of the capital under American and Iraqi army control on the Ministry of Health building. As many as 30 gunmen laid assault with small arms fire and mortar attack.

The significance being that this is a ministry controlled by the same Shia political and militia faction that comes from Sadr City. So while we see an attack on their government face, one of their key ministries that is now handling the dead and the wounded, we also saw a direct strike on their population on a scale that's not been seen here since the American invasion and occupation began in 2003.

FRAZIER: All right. Michael Ware, live from Baghdad.

Michael, thank you.