Sanaa (Agencies): A Chinese commercial ship was hijacked by Somali pirates at Yemen’s western port of Al-Hudaydah, Yemen's interior ministry said in a statement.

"Somali pirates attacked a commercial Chinese ship named 'Tien Hau' while it was 11 nautical miles off Al-Tair Island in Al-Hudaydah province," said the ministry.

The pirates "managed to capture the ship" and steered it towards the Somali coast, it quoted Al-Hudaydah coastguards as saying.

An investigation has been launched into the fate of the ship and its crew, the ministry added without elaborating further.

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