MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE, AUG. 13 -- Mozambique says the death toll from the second massacre by right-wing rebels in a month is expected to rise as troops and Red Cross workers pick their way through mined buildings in the town of Manjacaze.

The official AIM news agency said last night that 72 bodies had been found after about 600 well-armed rebels swept into the town early Monday.

In Lisbon, the rebels today denied massacring people in the southern town.

Paulo Oliveira, spokesman for the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), said, "We completely deny responsibility for this. We have nothing to do with it. We are trying to win over the population, not massacre them."

Local government official Alberto Languene said the attackers would have carried out a massacre similar to one at Homoine on July 18 in which more than 380 civilians reportedly were killed, but were held up by nine government soldiers guarding Manjacaze. "Had it not been for our nine comrades from Maputo, the number of deaths could have been much higher," AIM quoted him as saying.

The news agency said the rebels planted mines, scattered booby traps and wrecked the town's gasoline, water and electricity supplies before withdrawing when government reinforcements arrived.

Manjacaze is near the coast, between Maputo and Homoine.