KINSHASA, Congo (AP) _ Rebel fighters shot down a passenger jet with 40 people on board Saturday in eastern Congo, a Congo Airline representative said.

A missile hit the rear engine of the Boeing jet shortly after the aircraft took off from Kindu airport, the airline representative said in a telephone interview in Kinshasa.

The plane crashed into a densely forested area just outside of Kindu, about 620 miles east of the capital, Kinshasa.

The airline official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said women and children were among the civilian passengers on the aircraft. There was no immediate information on casualties as rescue workers were still searching for wreckage.

Several civilian aircraft had been taken over by the rebels in eastern Congo after they launched a rebellion against President Laurent Kabila at the start of August, the CAL official said.

It was unclear who controlled the aircraft that shot down.