The discovery of a rocket launcher and warhead in Northern Ireland has saved lives, police said.

The explosives were found at a house in west Belfast on Tuesday by officers probing dissident republicanism.

The anti-peace process armed factions have been linked to the killing of soldiers, police officers and a prison warder.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) 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."

Northern Ireland Police Federation chairman Terry Spence, who represents rank and file officers, praised his "brave" colleagues.

"The rocket launcher and warhead seized by the PSNI in west Belfast were undoubtedly intended to murder officers," he said. "No hiding place for terrorists. A magnificent job by our brave colleagues."

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

The munitions were seized in Hawthorn Street off the Falls Road.

The items have been taken away for forensic examination.

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.