A young Texas nurse held for three months by rebel troops in Mozambique has reached safety after a two-week, 300-mile trek through war-torn countryside with her Australian and Zimbabwean fellow captives, including an 18-month-old baby.

The seven freed captives, including Kindra Bryan, 27, of Houston, crossed the Chire River into Malawi in a dugout canoe Tuesday afternoon, a State Department official said yesterday.

Bryan, a nurse working for a Hawaii-based relief organization called Youth With a Mission, was met by U.S. charge d'affaires Dennis Jett on the other bank and taken to the U.S. Embassy in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe, the department reported. She is expected to return to the United States early next week.

According to earlier reports, guerrilla troops of the Renamo rebel group seeking to topple the Marxist government in Mozambique captured the group of medical relief workers on their farm east of the town of Gondola, 100 miles from Mozambique's second largest city, Beira, on May 13. Bryan had been in the country one month.

Tom Schaaf, Washington spokesman for Renamo, said the guerrillas captured the group to protect them from government troops active in the Beira corridor civil war zone.

But the action has hurt the rebels' efforts to win support here, and the captives were allowed to go free. The group decided to walk to safety after plans by the Red Cross to fly them out were dropped because of fighting in the remote area.

Escorted by armed geurrillas, the seven traveled mainly at night, according to Bryan's mother, Mary Jo Free of Wellburn, Tex., who spoke to her daughter this week.

"It was rough. Kindra said . . . you wouldn't believe the mud and the thick, thick brush. She said they had to pick worms out of their feet," Free said in a telephone interview.

Bryan and the others lived mainly on dried meat provided by their armed rebel escort, said Free. Her daughter said she was "fitter than she's ever been," but is thin. "She weighs about 100 pounds after suffering from malaria, sunstroke and dysentery in the past three months, she said.

A State Department official, who refused to allow his name to be used, scorned the suggestion that Renamo had taken the workers into "protective custody."

"It strikes me as extremely odd that if that was the object, {Renamo geurrillas} would storm into the farmhouse in the dead of night, set fire to two vehicles, strip the house bare and take them against their will on a three-month trek," he said, referring to an eye-witness account of the May capture. "Renamo let them go, but they also captured them in the first place."