Story Highlights• NEW: 108th U.S. soldier killed, making December deadliest month in 2006
• Nine killed, including Shiite cleric, by suicide bomber
• Two Iranian diplomats in U.S. custody for a week are free
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide bomber targeted a Shiite cleric north of Baghdad Friday afternoon, killing him, his brother and seven others, authorities in Iraq said.
The killings took place in the Diyala provincial town of Khalis about 2:30 p.m.
The bomber had waited near the house of Sheik Kadhim Hameed Qassim, the sheik of Khalis Shiite Mosque, and self-detonated when the cleric, his security and family members arrived after Friday prayers, Diyala officials said.
The province, northeast of Baghdad, has seen much violence.
In addition to the 10 killed, including the suicide bomber, 15 others were wounded, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.
The attack came a day after five bombs, including two that exploded simultaneously, killed at least 20 Iraqis in and around Baghdad, according to the Interior Ministry. Another 67 were wounded.
Thursday also marked the day the U.S. military announced the 100th U.S. soldier killed in December, marking the month the fifth deadliest since the war began. (Full story)
On Friday, the British Ministry of Defense announced its 127th death in the war. A roadside bomb killed a soldier, who belonged to the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, 2nd Battalion, while on patrol in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war stands at 2,989.
Meanwhile on Friday, officials expected the imminent execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. One of his defense attorneys, Najib al-Nuaimi, cited "different sources" as saying Hussein could be executed Saturday morning in Baghdad. (Full story)
Hussein was found guilty of murder, torture and forced deportation in connection with the killings of 148 people in Dujail after an attempt on his life in 1982. He was sentenced to death by hanging. (Watch what some Iraqis predict will happen, if Hussein dies )
Insurgents killed in raids
Coalition forces killed six insurgents during raids in Baghdad and northwest of the capital Friday, the U.S. military reported.
Four insurgents were killed, and two buildings with nearby cache sites of bomb equipment were destroyed in Thar Thar, northwest of the capital, the military said.
One cache had enough bomb-making material "to include 16 pounds of homemade explosives, one 60-pound and one 80-pound bomb," the military said.
Two insurgents were killed, and two detained in a coalition raid targeting the al Qaeda in Iraq group in Baghdad.
Three other raids were carried out around the capital, targeting al Qaeda in Iraq and illegal armed groups. Seventeen people were detained.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.
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