BEIJING (ANTARA News) - A Chinese-flagged commercial ship reportedly hijacked by Somali pirates was safe and being escorted by anti-piracy naval vessels, state press said on Sunday.

The ship had not been hijacked off the Yemeni coast, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre.

A Chinese naval fleet working as part of an international anti-piracy force in waters off Yemen was "safely" escorting the ship, it said.

Yemen`s interior ministry said Saturday that Somali pirates had hijacked the "Tien Hau" off Yemen`s western port of Al-Hudaydah.

China`s military attache to Yemen, earlier quoted by Xinhua, had also confirmed the apparent hijacking.

Heavily armed pirates using speedboats operate in the Gulf of Aden where they prey on ships, often holding vessels for weeks before releasing them for large ransoms paid by governments or ship-owners.(*)

Editor: Jafar M Sidik
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