US-based International Christian Concern (ICC), with Website www.persecution.org, told BosNewsLife that eight of the wounded were taken to hospitals in the town of Awassa, following the attacks in the Nensebo area, while seriously injured persons were transported to Black Lion Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa.
Among the wounded are a police officer and a Christian "whose hand was cut off by the radical Muslims," ICC added. Details remained sketchy, but reports said Muslims wielding razor-sharp machetes broke into the Kale Hiwot and Birhane Wongel Baptist churches in the remote village of Nensebo Chebi, about 400 kilometers (240 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa.
At least two church members lost a hand each in the attacks, which began March 2, while a five-year-old boy was still hospitalized after his arm was slashed to the bone, said Compass Direct, a Christian news agency.
Christian survivors said that during the apparently well-planned violence, militants were heard shouting "Allah Akbar!" the two Arabic words for "Allah is Greatest."
ICC investigators said the violence came after Muslim militants linked to the Wahhabi Islam movement vowed to destroy churches in the area and threatened to target "any Christian group that does missionary work" in the region.
"Christians and Muslims in Ethiopia had been living peacefully together until the arrival of Wahhabi Islam from Saudi Arabia," the well-informed group said in a statement.
Wahabism is a conservative 18th century reform movement of Sunni Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, after whom the movement is named, according to experts. It is the creed upon which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded.
"The spread of Wahhabism, fueled by financial support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, is radicalizing Muslims who are in turn increasingly hostile towards Christians," ICC warned, adding that previous attacks by militants also took place in western Ethiopia.
The ICC said, "the recent attack in the South shows an increasing spread of Muslim radicalization throughout the country." The group stressed it had urged supporters to contact Ethiopian Embassies in their own countries to demand better protection of Christians in Nensebo and other Muslim-dominated areas of Ethiopia.