A rocket launcher and warhead have been discovered by police investigating dissident republicans in west Belfast.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesman said officers found the weapons while searching a house in Hawthorn Street.

He added that the launcher and warhead were intended to kill.

The spokesman said: "These weapon systems are clearly intended to kill and we should be in no doubt that the recovery of these items has saved lives."

Dissidents have been linked to a series of attempts to kill members of the security forces, including soldiers, police and a prison officer.

Earlier this month Irish police intercepted a suspected dissident republican haul of rocket launchers and explosives in Co Tipperary which were believed to be en route to Northern Ireland.

The PSNI spokesman said: "Detectives from PSNI serious crime branch have recovered a rocket launcher and warhead from a house. The search was conducted in relation to ongoing dissident republican activity." The items have been taken away for forensic examination.

Police have been on high alert for more attacks in Northern Ireland for some time.

Officers in Britain have expressed concern about helping police at the G8 this summer in Northern Ireland because of the danger.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has warned he needs more officers to cope with the security threat and other unrest.