BEIRUT, NOV. 11 -- A bomb concealed in a suitcase ripped through a cluster of people at the entrance of Beirut International Airport today, killing at least five persons and wounding 70, police said.

The glassed-in entryway, guarded by Syrian and Lebanese soldiers, was shattered, and the blast tore through the midriff of a blonde woman who airport security officials said was carrying the explosives. They said she was a Palestinian.

{The woman was among the dead, The Associated Press reported.}

About half an hour later, a French engineer, Richard Gempel, 46, was shot in the head by three gunmen in a speeding car on a highway north of Christian east Beirut.

Syrian troops in charge of security along the airport road south of the Moslem-controlled half of Beirut blocked access to the facility, Lebanon's only air link to the outside world, as about 20 ambulances rushed victims to nearby hospitals.

Children cried, and a woman, muttering hysterically over the bloodstained floor, repeated, "Roula is gone . . . Roula is gone." Witnesses said they saw severed hands and limbs, and anxious relatives who had accompanied family members to the airport inquired frantically about the fate of loved ones.

Police said the bomb weighed 2.2 pounds, although local radio reports put its size at 44 pounds. "The damage was extensive because it blew up in the midst of a crowd near large glass panes," said one police official.

The Lebanese Interior Ministry announced late tonight that a number of Lebanese and Syrian soldiers were among the victims, but did not specify how many or whether they were dead or wounded.

Lebanon's only airport had been closed for five days by labor unions protesting continued civil strife and demanding government action to salvage the ailing Lebanese pound.

Flights had resumed last night.

Hundreds of travelers delayed by the strike were crowded into the small terminal when the bomb blew up at 4:10 p.m. Airport security officials issued a statement accusing Palestinian Thorayya Sahyoun of responsibility for the blast.

The statement said the blonde woman was not listed on any flights and had come to the airport to plant the bomb. No timing fuse was found among the debris, which authorities said suggested that it had been set earlier.

The wife of Gempel, the French engineer who was shot, said he was employed at a factory that makes arak, a locally produced alcoholic beverage brewed from grape juice and anisette. Evelyne Gempel, a Lebanese, said she and her husband had lived in Lebanon for the past 10 years and had no enemies.

A medical report issued by Saydate Lubnan Hospital said the Frenchman was in a coma following surgery and described his condition as critical.

At least 73 French citizens have been killed in recent years in Lebanon. Seven French nationals have been kidnaped and are still missing.