The Afghan Army launched an operation and released 59 prisoners from a Taliban jail in Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gah on Saturday, as government troops redouble their efforts to drive back the militants who have captured large parts of the volatile southern province.
According to Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri, 37 of the hostages were soldiers, another seven were policemen and the rest civilians.
"We have to accept that there is a fight going on in Afghanistan," he told reporters in Kabul, added that government forces faced a serious fight against militants who have grown in strength since foreign troops ended most combat operations a year ago.
The operations came after a suicide bombing attack, which targeted a French restaurant in Kabul and left 2 people dead and 8 injured.
The Taliban claimed in a statement that "dozens of foreigners" had been killed or wounded, although they often exaggerate casualty figures in attacks on foreign or government targets.