ATHENS - Somali pirates have seized a Greek-flagged oil tanker 700 miles off the coast of Somalia, near the Seychelles, Greece's coastguard said Monday.

The Maran Centaurus was sailing from Kuwait to the Gulf of Mexico with its 28 crew, when it was seized early Sunday.

The Greek coastguard said there were nine Greeks, two Ukrainians, one Romanian and 16 Filipinos on board.

About nine armed pirates attacked the tanker and seized it, 700 miles of the Somali coast, near the Seychelles, said a coastguard official, who requested anonymity.

Heavily armed gangs from Somalia have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms targeting vessels using the strategic shipping lanes that link Europe to Asia.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by David Stamp)