Cameroon admitted on Tuesday that militants acting with three soldiers killed 13 civilians including 10 children in an anglophone region in the west of the country in February.
The government had previously denied any role in the massacre in the region, where English-speaking separatists have been fighting government forces for the past two years.
According to the United Nations, the death toll in the massacre on the night of February 13 left 23 civilians dead including 15 children in the village of Ntumbo.
It said nine of the children were under age five and that two of the victims were pregnant women.
In a statement read over state radio on Tuesday, the president’s office said three soldiers and a vigilante group stormed a separatist base, killing five, before “discovering that three women and 10 children were killed” in the firefight.
“Overcome with panic, the three soldiers helped by some members of the self-defence group tried to hide the incident by setting fires,” the statement said.
The army initially claimed that the deaths were an accident after fuel supplies exploded into flames during a gun battle with separatists.
Rights groups have accused both sides of atrocities in the conflict, which has left more than 3,000 dead, closed schools and clinics and forced 700,000 people to flee their homes.