Thousands of Sudanese demonstrators joined new protests Thursday against the army’s October 25 coup, braving tear gas, the cutting of communication links and a tight lockdown in the capital, AFP correspondents reported.

Demonstrators reached within a few hundred metres (yards) of the presidential palace in Khartoum, headquarters of military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, before troops, police and paramilitary units launched multiple tear gas canisters into the crowd.

The activists are calling for a transition to civilian rule. Witnesses reported similar anti-coup protests in Madani, south of the capital, and the cities of Kassala and Port Sudan in the east.

Pro-democracy activists have kept up a campaign of street demonstrations against the army’s takeover, despite a crackdown that has seen at least 48 people die in protest-related violence, according to the independent Doctors’ Committee.

The security forces had deployed in strength across Khartoum in anticipation of Thursday’s demonstration.

Army and police patrols criss-crossed the streets, while shipping containers blocked the Nile bridges that connect the capital with its northern suburbs and its twin city Omdurman.

The bridges were blocked off for the last protests on December 26, when tens of thousands took to the streets.

But for Thursday’s protests, new surveillance cameras had been installed on the major thoroughfares along which demonstrators were due to march.

For the first time, authorities also cut all phone lines, both international and domestic.

Web monitoring group NetBlocks reported mobile internet services were cut from mid-morning Thursday. Activists use the internet for organising demonstrations and broadcasting live footage of the rallies.

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