Rome (Agencies): Pirates attacked and seized an Italian oil tanker on Tuesday with a crew of five Italians and 17 Indians east of the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean, Italian coast guard said.

Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro says there was an exchange of fire between the pirates and crew and that the pirates were believed to have boarded the "Savina Caylyn," a 266-meter (873-foot) tanker.

According to the Italian Marine Corps, the captain tried to evade capture by speeding up, suddenly changing gear and firing powerful water jets on the priates' skiff.

The tanker was about 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of the Indian coast. Nicastro said it was not unheard of for Somali pirates to operate so far from the Somali coast. The tanker is owned by Naples-based Fratelli D'Amato SpA shipbuilders.

The coast guard was alerted to the attack by a satellite alarm system all Italian ships have that registers with the coast guard's operations center in Rome.

An Italian Navy frigate was heading to the region.