The violence in Oromia is a thorny challenge for Mr. Abi, who is himself a member of the Oromo ethnic group. He came to power in 2018 in a wave of demonstrations in the region against the previous government. These protests were sparked by the Oromos who felt they had been marginalized politically and economically, even though they were the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.
But while Mr Abiy, born in Oromia, has sought to centralize his power, observers said his actions alienated many in the region, particularly those who were advocating more autonomy. Mr Abiy’s government responded by suppressing protests, closing offices linked to Oromo political groups and arresting prominent activists, including Jawar Mohammed, a prominent critic of the prime minister.
William Davison, a senior Ethiopian analyst with the International Crisis Group, said the crackdown has prompted many young Oromo nationalists to “switch from peaceful protests and registered political parties to the insurgency” faced by the Oromo Liberation Army.
The new claim by Mr Abiy that the OLA committed another massacre this week was supported by the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which said the armed group Kill the Ethnic Amhara Civilians in two villages in the Qalam and Weliga district, about 370 miles west of the capital, Addis Ababa.
Neither Mr Abiy nor the commission provided the death toll, but Hon Mandefru, director of advocacy at the Amhara American Association, said more than 300 people were killed, and 120 were buried on Tuesday in one village. He said dozens were kidnapped during the attack, and their whereabouts remain unknown.
Instead, the Oromo Liberation Army, in a Twitter post on Tuesday, placed a file Blame Militias for Attacks Allied with the government of Mr. Abi.
Their claim was reinforced late Tuesday night, when a lawmaker from Abiy’s ruling Prosperity Party disputed the official account, saying in a Facebook Live video that senior government officials in Oromia, including the region’s leader and police commissioner, helped orchestrate the attacks.
Prosperity Party MP Hangaasa Ahmed Ibrahim called on Mr Abiy to take action against the leadership in Oromia and protect civilians.
“We are tired of seeing the ‘Rest in Peace and Condolences’ statements,” he said in a broadcast that spanned nearly two hours, in which Mr. Abiy urged.
The head of communications for the Oromia region did not respond to requests for comment.
Telephone networks in remote villages remained down on Wednesday, making it difficult to reach residents.
But Tulasa Raja, the head of the Hawa Jalan Hospital in the town of Jabba Rubi, about 10 miles from where the killing took place, said the hospital had received 35 injured people.
“All of them were shot, some of them are in critical condition,” Mr. Raja said in a telephone interview.
Muhammad Syed, a 45-year-old farmer from Jhapa Ruby, said that other villagers collected 30 bodies in front of a mosque in a village and buried them.
The latest killings come on the heels of another massacre, in western Oromia in June, when armed assailants stormed the village of Toul, also home to the majority of Amhara’s population, and began indiscriminately shooting civilians. The attack left at least hundreds of deaths 2,000 more flee their homesAccording to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Ethiopia is also struggling with one of the most severe droughts to hit the country in four decades, leaving millions of people starving. UNICEF said so last week Child marriage doubled in Ethiopia Last year in areas hardest hit by drought because fathers were marrying off their young daughters for financial reasons.