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French press review 14 April 2015

The French press shows compassion for grieving Nigerian parents of the Chibok girls as they mark the first anniversary of the abduction of 219  students by Boko Haram insurgents.

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It has been one year without any news about the Nigerian students, headlines La Croix. The paper fears that the girls may have been forcefully married, killed or even used as kamikazes during attacks on the Nigerian population. Moreso, the spate of abductions has continued in northern Nigeria, observes the Catholic newspaper, and it wonders whether the international mobilisation to secure their release may have been too much noise for nothing.

Le Figaro marks the grim anniversary by posting an edited photograph of a grieving Chibok mother on its front page. It explains that it was taken from a park in the Nigerian capital of Abuja where Chibok parents gather every day in search of information about their missing children. The mystery of the girls’ disappearance is becoming unbearable, writes Le Figaro, noting that the question asked over and over about the girls’ whereabouts has only “fallen into the same dark hole".

The morale of the parents had a facelift over the past few days after the BBC published testimonies by some women who escaped from the Boko Haram stronghold of Gwoza. They said that they saw some of the Chibok girls alive shortly before the town was recaptured by regional-backed Nigerian forces.

Le Figaro floats assumptions by a so-called French intelligence source which claimed that the girls were broken up in several groups, held at different locations and moved around frequently. According to the paper such conditions make any rescue attempt to free the hostages particularly risky.

Libération also provides special coverage to mark the first anniversary of the kidnapping. The left-leaning publication reports from Maiduguri, where it shared the anguish of some of the missing students’ parents. One of their contacts was Rachel Daniel, seen on a picture holding up the photograph of her 17-year-old daughter Rose taken away by Boko Haram insurgents.

The special report includes a rare picture of the flashpoint town of Bama in the outskirts of the Borno state capital Maiduguri, retaken by the Nigerian army in January. The paper expresses shock at the scenes of devastation and carnage it discovered on the ground, with Amnesty International saying that the city witnessed the killing of more than 2,000 people, the deadliest massacre in Boko Haram's history.

Libération’s tally of girls and women kidnapped, forcefully married and converted to Islam or sold as sex slaves by the group since 2013 stands at more than 500. Hence its conviction that it has been a year of anguish for Nigeria. According to the paper, despite the massive mobilisation for the BringBackOurGirls campaign, the girls remain missing -- a nightmare both for the girls who escaped and the families of those detained by the insurgents.

And l'Equipe tips Monaco to leave their mark on the European football when they face old Italian dame Juventus in Turin in the first-leg quarter finals of the Uefa Champions League. With bookmakers warning Juve not to underestimate the Riviera side, the sports daily is betting on Monaco to kick off a dream week for France. They are playing ahead of  Wednesday's showdown between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona at the Parc de Princes. Monaco booked their place in the last eight by sweeping away English giants Arsenal. "Enjoy yourselves", beckons L'Equipe.

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