Twenty-seven people were killed in pro-democracy protests last week in Eswatini, Commerce Minister Manqoba Khumalo told the AFP news agency.
Last week, an official had put the death toll at nine with many others injured.
Civil society groups had previously said dozens of people were killed by security forces – many for violating a curfew imposed in the wake of the protests.
“Unfortunately, yes, 27 people lost their lives,” the minister is quoted as saying, adding “it was not intended”.
Activists want an end to King Mswati’s decades-long rule by decree replaced with democratically elected leaders.
The anger was on a scale rarely seen in the small country. It came after the authorities banned the delivery of petitions in an attempt to silence calls for more democratically elected leaders.