Gay rights activists wear masks to protect their identity. File picture: Ben Curtis/AP

Zanzibar, Tanzania - Authorities in Tanzania's semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar have detained 20 people accused of engaging in same-sex activities, police said Saturday, the latest incident in a crackdown on homosexuality in the East African country.

Twelve women and eight men were arrested following a police raid on a hotel where the suspects were attending a workshop, said regional police chief, Hassan Ali.

"Yes, we rounded them up because we suspect that they were engaged in homosexuality in Zanzibar, which is illegal in Zanzibar and is against the law of the country," he said, adding that police "will intensify (their) vigilance against those groups."

Homosexuality is criminalized in Tanzania, and sex among men is punishable by jail terms ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment.

Tanzanian authorities recently have cracked down on homosexuals. In September 2016, the government temporarily suspended HIV/AIDS outreach projects targeting gay men.

In February, the government stopped 40 privately run health centres from providing AIDS-related services, accusing them of catering to homosexuals.

Associated Press