Administrator Elias Umeta told Reuters that the killings were carried out on Sunday by an armed group called OLF Shane in Wollega District west of the Oromiya region.
“We buried 32 of them today. About 700 to 750 people were also displaced from the area,” he said.
OLF Shane separates from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an opposition party that has lived in exile for many years but was allowed to return to Ethiopia after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. Sporadic violence has rocked Ethiopia since then.
OLF Shane said it was fighting for the rights of the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. But there was no immediately known motive for the murder, Elias said.
“They were executed after they were told by the armed group that they wanted to have a meeting with them,”; he said.
The state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said the attack targeted people of the Amharic ethnic group.
“They were dragged out of their homes and taken to a school where they were killed,” Daniel Bekele, the chief commissioner of the committee, said in a statement, adding that the death toll could be higher.
“These gruesome murders of civilians are dishonest and disregard for the basic principles of mankind.”
The latest murders intensify recent incidents of violence in various parts of Ethiopia.
Last week, clashes between two Ethiopian nations – Somali and Afar – that have long had a border dispute left at least 27 people dead.
In mid-October, at least 12 people were killed in the Metakal region of the Benishangul-Gumuz region. It was followed by two attacks in the same area in September, when 45 people were killed.