The German parliament on Thursday extended by a year the deployment of its military contingent, part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR), in the Serbian province of Kosovo. The Bundestag voted by 575 to seven to extend the mission of the 2,600 soldiers based in the region of Prizren in the southwest of the province. German Defense Minister Peter Struck said there was no alternative to the presence of NATO forces as outbreaks of violence were still possible in the province divided between the ethnic Albanian majority and minority Serbs. KFOR has about 17,000 troops from 36 countries in Kosovo. The peacekeepers are in charge of establishing and maintaining a secure environment in the province, including public safety and order and of providing assistance to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Kosovo is technically part of Serbia but has been a UN protectorate since NATO intervened militarily in 1999 to end a war between Serbian forces and separatist guerrillas.