Thousands of anti-government protesters have broken a police cordon in the Egyptian capital and are crossing a major bridge over the Nile to join hundreds more demonstrators massed on the other side of the river.

The demonstration calling for an end to Hosni Mubarak’s government is the biggest Egypt has seen in years.

Police are showing unusual restraint in what appears to be a concerted effort by the government not to provoke a Tunisia-like mass revolt.

The demonstrators chanted, “Long Live a Free Tunisia” and “Down with Hosni Mubarak.”

Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Alexandria and other cities.

The call for Tuesday’s rallies spread on Facebook and Twitter, with 90,000 saying they would attend. Downtown Cairo came to a standstill and there was a massive security presence.

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